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Commercial Single Stream Recycling


Single stream recycling is an important service that recyclers can offer to businesses wishing to improve their recycling rate, while eliminating the complexity and other challenges associated with segregating and storing different materials.

What Is Single Stream Recycling?

Single stream recycling at the commercial level involves the commingling of various materials into the bin, versus the separation and accumulation of various types of materials for return separately. Single stream recycling typically includes a number of materials. For example, materials accepted for single stream recovery by RPJ Waste Services include:

  • newspapers and paper bags
  • magazines and catelogues
  • telephone books and soft cover books
  • junk mail, envelopes, and paper
  • paperboard
  • cardboard
  • narrow neck plastic bottles
  • plastic shopping bags
  • milk jugs, bleach and shampoo bottles
  • glass bottles
  • metal cans

Why Is It a Growing Market?

Increasingly, companies want to green their businesses, including recycling, but for many it presents new problems in terms of management, staffing and space utilization. With this in mind, the market for commercial single stream recycling offers benefits to address these problems:

  • It allows customers to improve their recycling rate
  • Allows customers to recycle materials that they would not generate enough volume for segregation and accumulation
  • Diverts material from trash, reducing garbage costs
  • With recycling taken care of, management can better concentrate on core business activities rather than recycling
  • Likewise, staff can better focus on core business activities rather than recycling
  • The accumulation of separate materials requires significant storage space which can be eliminated through the commingling of materials

Begin with an Audit

Unless you are already very familiar with the material flows from a particular type of business, you will benefit from auditing the potential customer’s waste stream. Some commercial single stream recycling service providers offer a free audit to understand what kind of recovery rate can be expected, and what the customer should be charged, based on that recovery. Because of differences from business to business, it is important to fully understand the material stream in order to accurately price the service.

Equipment Provision

In a single stream recycling operation, equipment will not generally be needed onsite. For offsite processing, however, equipment is typically needed to separate this material.

Other Onsite Services

One important element of onsite service will be educating customers about what materials may be recycled, and responding to customer queries about a new material, or preventing the flow of non-recyclables into the commingled material.

Pickup Services

Usually, commercial single stream recycling services include a container dropped at the customer location. These may be changed when full, or on a regular schedule.

Volume Variations

Remember that accumulations can vary based on changing business patterns related to seasonal or promotional volumes, or other considerations. Be sure to plan ahead with the customer to address these needs.

Processing of Commingled Product

The processing of commingled product can be very labor intensive if performed manually, requiring expensive sorting equipment involving conveyor belts, air jets, magnets and laser optics. Some recyclers with inadequate volume to justify their own system utilize the services of other recyclers to perform this service.

Single stream commercial recycling is closely related to single stream residential recycling and commercial dock sweeps.

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