The importance of preserving material quality and avoiding cross-contamination has become a common theme in many recent technical reports on recycling.
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While single-stream recycling is more convenient for consumers and results in lower costs than other collection systems, it also results in more contamination of collected materials, lower material quality, and increased waste. Using data from industry reports and interviews with recyclers, this report that highlights the economic and environmental impacts of switching to a single-stream system.
While the recycling's impact on jobs has been the subject of several studies in recent years, Returning to Work is the first report to take into account the vital importance of material quality, throughput quantities, processing dynamics and end-user needs to analyze the net gains in domestic jobs when beverage containers are recovered through recycling.
1. Depending on the system, container deposit-return (CDR) systems create 11 to 38 times more jobs than curbside recycling. 2. On average, states with deposit-return systems recover roughly three times more beverage containers than non-CDR states. 3. Jobs gained from recycling far exceed any jobs lost in virgin extraction, landfilling or domestic manufacturing. 4. U.S. PET reclaimers currently operate at less than 60% capacity due to a lack of quality source materials. 5. The U.S.
Single-stream recycling is a system in which all recyclables, including newspaper, cardboard, plastic, aluminum, junk mail, etc., are placed in a single bin or cart for recycling. These recyclables are collected by a single truck and taken to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) to be sorted into various commodity streams for sale to markets, where it is processed into feedstock which can be used in the manufacture of new products.