Single-Stream Recycling

Irked by single-stream recycling? Frustrated by the fact that your well-intentioned efforts to help out and separate recyclables come to naught in this fashion?

If it makes you feel any better, communities with single-stream recycling get 20% more participation, because it makes separation more convenient even for people who are not especially dedicated to the notion of recycling.

And you can still help the sorters on the other end by bundling paper and newspaper, preferably separately. Bundling not only cuts down on the labor for the sorters, but keeps the paper cleaner.


2 Responses to “Single-Stream Recycling”

  1. May 4, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    Single Stream “recycling” might sound like a good idea. But what happens to glass? Or what about styrofoam? What of electronic e-waste that can be recycled? How about cel phones? Or alkaline batteries? The point is, not much can go into a single stream container. So, what is the point of recycling, if not to reclaim as much as we can from going to the landfill, as well as recapturing the natural resources that went into making these items originaly? Thank God these folks that think single stream “recycling” weren’t around during the second world war, when our ancestors, knew what “recycling” was really about. We saw what happened when people chipped in to gather materials for the war effort. Why can’t we get back on that track, and stop worying so much about “cheap and convenient’?? We as people, have an obligation to do what is right and recycle as much as we can, keeping the quality of recyclables high. Single Stream all but guarantees, inferior quality of recyclables that are sent to market. Single Stream is more like “sweeping dirt under the rug”. It is out of the way, but has it been properly dealt with? We should take our parents example of how to recycle. Seemed to work just fine when average people were challenged in the past? What has happened to us, that we always seem to need a quick, cheap fix to solve our problems of massive consumption. Seems we didn’t blink, when it came time to go out of our way to go and purchase the products we bought. Why not at least half that effort, to take back our recyclables to a recycling depot? Where hands on attention from staff, gurantees a higher grade of recyclables that can be sold to plants. Which pays a higher fee for cleaner recyclables sent to these factories. If we are going to put a dent in global warming, we need to look back in our recent past. We know what to do, it is just that we have become lazy! Support ethical, sustainable recycling depots. They do it right!

  2. May 6, 2008 at 7:54 pm

    You make some great points about the tyranny of “cheap and convenient.” I have personally found in the last few years that skipping that trip to the store altogether is even cheaper and more convenient, and I can only say am I happier.

    But I find it hard to argue with 20% difference in participation rates. If single-stream recycling is what it takes to get some people to separate their stuff, then it might be worth it.

    I’m not sure why you suggest that glass can’t be put into single-stream recycling. Where I used to live, glass went into the single stream. And having single-stream curbside pickup did not in any way prevent me from taking everything that couldn’t go into my bin to a recycling center. Lots of people around me participate in a curbside program and visit recycling centers for everything else.

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