Single-stream recycling debated by association
This summer, the Northeast Resource Recovery Association
(NRRA) met with its member cities, towns and businesses
to discuss single-stream recycling. The open forum included
over 85 members with 38 communities represented and was
meant to help members evaluate whether this program would
be beneficial to their communities or businesses.
The single-stream recycling concept has been around for
many years but is just starting to be considered in New
Hampshire. Single-stream recycling allows residents to
put all recyclables in one bin where it is then transported
to a facility to be sorted. This program increases the
recycling rate but also limits the income that communities
receive for their commodities. Some single-stream recycling
programs have estimated that they pay between $10 and
$15 a ton for mixed recyclables delivered to the single-stream
facility. Currently, Goffstown, New Hampshire is successfully
running a curbside single-stream program.
Dave Kirsch, member of NRRA’s board of trustees and recycling
manager in Swanzey, New Hampshire, shared his cost analysis
of how single-stream recycling would affect his program.
While the single-stream program would cut the town’s
operating costs by $30,200, overall the program would
cost the town $19,100, partly in lost revenue from not
selling the recyclables at a higher price.
In addition to current single-stream recycling programs,
NRRA also offers several other options that may work
for members, including a Consolidation Program and a
Dual-Stream Recycling Program. The Consolidation Program
bundles small quantities of processed recyclables from
multiple municipalities to bring the goods to one central
location. This reduces storage requirements for members
and obtains maximum revenue by shipping the largest loads
NRRA has successfully completed five pilot consolidation
runs of OCC (cardboard), aluminum cans and steel cans.
Twenty-five different communities participated and helped
NRRA refine the program to better serve each municipality.
This allowed NRRA members to capture high market pricing,
as well as achieve full and heavier loads. For example,
members who participated recently received $.18 more
per pound for aluminum cans and $130 a gross ton more
for steel cans by consolidation.
The Dual-Stream Recycling Program is an alternative avenue
as well. NRRA has offered this program since 2004 and
residents sort the recyclables into two bins: paper (cardboard,
mixed paper, newspaper and junk mail) in one bin and
commingled containers (plastics #1 - #7, aluminum and
steel cans, jars and bottles) in the other bin. Thirty-eight
members currently use this dual-stream program and many
achieve tandem hauls on a regular basis. This program
brings revenue to members based on weights and markets.
NRRA member pricing for July 2008 was between $75 and
$80 a ton for paper and between $37 and $20 a ton for