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ISRI Time Capsule: Arguing Against One-Bin Collection

ISRI knew all about the one-bin approach to curbside collection when that issue began attracting the attention of some municipalities around 2013.

Nov15LUTimeCapsuleOneBinIn that approach, recyclables and solid waste are collected in the same bin and transported to a “dirty MRF” for sorting and separation. While that approach sounds good in theory, the recovered recyclables often are of lower quality than material from single- or dual-stream collection systems, plus otherwise recoverable material often gets lost in the solid waste stream. For those and other reasons, ISRI adopted a policy in 2014 opposing one-bin collection of recyclables with solid waste. “Since the quality of the recyclables as specification-grade commodities is essential, ISRI opposes the commingling of recyclables with solid waste or mixed waste processing in a one-bin system where all solid waste and recyclables are placed together with no separation prior to recycling,” ISRI said in its policy statement. The ISRI board also approved a request from the Paper Division to fund a white paper examining the differences in quality and contamination levels between recyclables collected via single- and dual-stream separation and those collected in a one-bin system in which they are commingled with municipal solid waste. What’s more, ISRI conducted a survey of North American paper mills that consume recovered fiber and found that they largely reject scrap paper sourced from one-bin processing centers. 

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