Instead of having your attention diverted with words like convenience and participation rates, let’s talk about what single stream really entails. Maybe you’ve heard the following comments from staff or aldermen.

“There is opportunity for source-separated collection from sources that have an abundance of a particular type of material.”

Citizens want all recyclables, residential and commercial, collected in such a way that they maintain market value. In other words not contaminated. If you collect, but can’t sell, you are not recycling.

“The City of Fayetteville has an ordinance that requires our recycling providers document the chain-of-custody to ensure that recyclables are actually recycled.”

We have a Resolution, not an Ordinance. We need an Ordinance, that is, a Law. In 2011 I initiated Reso. # 19-11, in an effort to prevent a repeat of the faux single stream curbside program Fayetteville had in the 1990s.

Unfortunately in 2012, down at the 15th St. Drop Off Center, the city accepted 3-7 plastics without having viable markets. So, in 2013, I went to the state level and initiated AR HR 1043. Now I realize we need Laws, not Resolutions.

An Ordinance is a local Law. Fayetteville can be a leader in the country by passing an accountability/transparency Ordinance. Arkansas may be the only state that even has a Resolution.

“While there is a slight diminishment in the quality of the product, we see much higher participation rates.”

Are you speaking for the plastic, glass, metal, and paper end-users/re-manufacturers about the contamination issues with single stream? The end-users/re-manufacturers are the most important players in recycling. If you aren’t giving them feedstock they can use, you are not recycling. You are running a sham operation. End-users/remanufactures did not initiate single stream. Major garbage hauling companies did.

“Slight diminishment in the quality of the product.”

There is significant contamination with single stream. Our current curb-sort has what, maybe 3% contamination? Kessler Consulting says with a state of the art facility we can expect to see 15%. That 15% is not counting secondary contamination. An article in the AR Dem Gazette (March 18, 2016) reports Waste Management of Little Rock finally admitted 40% contamination.

Wise ones will second guess the contamination percentages. All the recycling gets dumped in the single compartment truck. Unlike products are smashed together. Liquids of all types are spilling everywhere.

Do you think someone is sitting at the paper mill cutting out percentages of paper that are covered in bleach, motor oil, nail polish, beer, ammonia, feces, glass particles? Do you think someone is sitting at the metal or plastic factory trying to get the glass and other garbage out of the smashed containers?

Single Stream is kickin’ the can. Contaminates gets baled up and sent to end-users/re-manufacturers (paper, plastic, metal, glass) whose equipment gets destroyed by pieces of glass and all sorts of garbage. How much energy do you think is required to clean up this mess? You call this sustainable?

“Worker safety is a big issue for me.”

I made a FOIA request regarding injuries. If I am reading the chart correctly there has been one recycling route injury per year for the past four years. No one has died. Recycling workers are on the curb side with a truck between them and traffic, unlike our Water Dept., Street Dept., Fire Dept. and Police Dept. personnel who are often, out in traffic.

“Severe weather is one of my concerns regarding curb sort collection.”

I agree and think it’s great when citizens are so compassionate as to keep their container inside during severe weather. Citizens who make an occasional trip to a drop off center get the opportunity to learn something new from the guys who maintain them.

“I would much rather our workers be indoors at a facility.”

Would you like to be totally suited up, standing in the same spot for eight hours, with all kinds of nasty stuff passing two feet beneath YOUR face? Baling up materials, even in sorted recycling facility, is filthy, nasty, gross work with lots of dust.

“Our current curb sort program is workable for single-family homes.”

It sure is and it can be enhanced and made more cost effective, with a paradigm shift.

“With more apartments, cluster housing, and commercial businesses wanting to recycle, our existing system isn’t capable of scaling up to handle the volume.”

So, choosing a system initiated by the garbage hauling industry, an industry dependent on increased volumes rather than reduction, choosing a system that contaminates, devalues our recyclables, choosing a system susceptible to fraud…that’s a good idea?

“We’ve experimented different ways to serve multi-family, but few people are willing to drive their recyclables to a drop-off center.”

This town has an infinite amount of creative talent. With a paradigm shift regarding approach, you can get people of all ages, engaged in serious sustainability. Single stream = superficial sustainability.

“We also see low participation rates when residents have to haul their recyclables to the far edge of the parking lot and sort them themselves.”

I worked with a community that had twice a week garbage collection. Yet, with education as the keystone of that program, people not only brought their recyclables to our drop off center, they continually volunteered their time to the overall project. An educational approach is very very different from an operational approach to recycling.

“Advantages of the single stream method outshine the disadvantages and solve several of the issues we are facing.”

Over the past year the chaos caused communities, by single stream has made news, especially the trade journals. Has your alderman done due diligence on single stream?

Waste Management Inc., was a key promoter of single stream. They, alone, have now closed 30 recycling facilities. They have raised rates while pulling glass from programs. Will Fayettteville follow the lead of garbage haulers when it comes to waste reduction/recycling? We need an Ordinance.

Click the link for a: 4 minute video on single stream


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