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The Daly Peak

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May 16

Frequently Asked Questions about Single-Stream Recycling

Posted on May 16, 2014 at 9:48 AM by Kelly Vaughn

The Town and county's recent switch to single-stream recycling may have left you with a few questions about how and why the program is implemented successfully. Fortunately, communities such as Boulder that have already made similar changes have developed lists of FAQ's that apply to our community as well. 

Q: What is single-stream recycling?

A. Single-stream refers to a new system that takes the two recycling “streams” collected by Solid Waste and Recycling programs— mixed paper and commingled containers — and puts them together in one bin.

Q: Why are we moving to single-stream?

A. Using just one collection bin for all your recyclable items increases the ease and convenience of recycling so that more people participate and more resources are saved. We’re making recycling easier for you.

Q: But I don’t mind sorting my materials. Isn’t it better for recycling if we separate items?
A. It is always good for recycling when the materials are properly sorted at “the source,” like your home or office. And, sorting is still important to make sure you leave contaminants out of your recycling bin. It is also good for recycling if ever-increasing amounts of material are kept out of the landfill and sold in good clean condition to the remanufacturing companies that make new products from recycled material. Single-stream helps to increase this volume of materials.

Q: How are the materials separated?
A. Many of the materials are sorted by equipment as well as by hand. With the new equipment, there are screens to separate “flats” (paper) from “rounds” (containers). Sorting equipment can be easily jammed by plastic bags, so please do not throw plastic shopping bags into your recycling containers. They will not be accepted and anything in them will be considered trash. 

Q: Doesn’t this lower the value of the materials, and won’t there be a lot of contamination?
A. Not necessarily if the program is used properly. We need you and your family to help demonstrate that a community full of educated, conscientious recyclers can make single-stream recycling a success. Download our guide of accepted items and contaminants to help us keep these problem items out.

Q: Are other communities using single-stream recycling?
A. Yes. Other communities diverting 50%, 60%, even 70% of their waste from the landfill have achieved these goals in part by switching to single-stream. Some of the communities currently using single-stream most successfully include San Francisco, Toronto, Denver, Tucson, San Jose, Philadelphia and Dallas.

Q: Are there new materials with the program?
A. Yes. Items including Now accepted in recycling include phone books, paper cardboard/dairy or juice containers, corrugated cardboard, and plastics #1-7. View a full list on our website.

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