Woman looking at large mounts of plastic recycling
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You may have heard of the term “Single Stream Recycling”  but don’t worry if you are still lost on what that means.  Depending on your area, you may have also heard it referred to as “fully commingled” or “single-sort”, but it all means the same thing.  The basic concept is that you don’t need to sort your recyclables.  Everything that recycling company will take can and should be put together in the bin.

Wait, what?  No longer a need to sort plastics, soda cans, and wine bottles?

It’s true.  The trend in municipalities moving to single stream recycling systems makes it much more simple for residents to recycle.

So, How Does it Work?

Single stream recycling works by having largely automated systems to sort through the recyclable materials.  Human workers also help with the sorting, but it is mainly to make sure nothing is moving through the line that will slow down or break the sorting machines.

Incoming material goes through a series of conveyors and sorting machines in order to properly sort like items.  Once sorted, items get compacted and bound for shipping to their next processing location.

It is very important that you read the guidelines given by your city or municipality on what is allowed and not allowed in your recycling program.  Although many large cities have seen significant success by moving from traditional recycling programs to single stream recycling, some cities have not changed over.  Even if your city is using single stream, be sure to check the allowed items, as they vary some from program to program.

Together, we can reduce 50% or more of material reaching our landfills.

Top Contaminants to the Single Stream Recycling Process.

Do not put these in your recycling bin:

  • Plastic Bags
  • Recyclables in Plastic Bags
  • Shredded Paper
  • Scrap Metal
  • Hazardous Waste
  • Diapers and biohazard items
  • non recyclable plastics & styrofoam
  • Plastic Caps & lids
  • Liquids

Still confused?  Watch this great video from Waste Management on how it works.

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