What is Single Stream Recycling?


We all know recycling is good for the state of Connecticut and good for our environment. It can be a bit of a chore, though, to separate all the different types of recycling. Single-stream recycling simplifies the task so that all a homeowner has to do is put out one recycling bin. What could be simpler?

How Single-Stream Recycling Works

Monroe and Trumbull residents can place all acceptable recyclable materials in a single rolling barrel for curbside pickup. The material is sorted at a central processing center, where it is separated both by machine and by hand.

Benefits of Single-Stream Recycling

The homeowner who has only to roll a single recycling barrel to the curb instantly sees the main benefit of single-stream recycling: time saved! The concept, however, has other benefits:

  • Recycling participation increases
  • Recyclable quantities increase
  • Landfill is reduced
  • Municipalities increase income from recyclables, lowering costs to homeowners
  • Larger barrels mean greater convenience
  • Collection trucks reduce fuel consumption through efficient routing
  • With increased recycling, natural resources are conserved

Preparing for Single-Stream Recycling

Whether you depend on a private hauler or a municipal service, single-stream recycling ends the time-consuming sorting of recyclables. You still have a few matters that need your attention:

  • Keep food, paper towels and food wrappers out of the barrel
  • Rinse plastic and steel cans, glass, aluminum, jars and food trays so they have no food on them
  • Keep motor oil, paint, medicine and automobile fluids out of the barrel
  • Rinse juice boxes and milk cartons before placing them in the barrel
  • Place newspapers, office paper, corrugated cardboard and boxboard in the barrel
  • Keep light bulbs, pizza boxes, window glass, coat hangers, plastic bags, toys, pots and pans, and ceramics out of the barrel

Monroe Recycles

Monroe accepts all plastics, junk mail, newspapers and mixed paper, glass jars and bottles, boxboard, corrugated cardboard, aluminum cans and food trays, steel cans and aseptic packaging (juice boxes and milk cartons).

Trumbull Recycles

Trumbull residents can recycle #1 and #2 plastic (look for the triangle on the bottom), junk mail, newspapers, aluminum and steel cans, corrugated cardboard and glass jars and bottles.

Private Haulers

If you enjoy the many benefits of private trash collection, your hauler may have a wider list of acceptable recycling materials, since there is money in nearly every material stream. Check with your hauler for details on the list of recyclable materials.

At the Collection Center

A single-stream recycling center combines human effort and mechanical marvels to separate the commingled materials. Conveyor belts spread the material out into a running stream that allows employees to pick out wayward objects. The remaining recyclables drop into a screening machine that allows heavy objects to drop while lighter objects move to a side conveyor. The remaining recyclables go under a magnet to recover steel items. Glass is pulverized in the screener.

Employees again sort through the conveyor stream, now simplified into various plastics. These are hand-sorted by plastic number (#1 through #5) and cardboard type. Aluminum is blown from the stream for recovery.

Paper—newspapers, junk mail, cardboard, boxboard and office paper—is also hand sorted by recycling center employees. You can see that recycling from a single processing center still requires the human touch, but efficiency increases because of the sheer volume of material flowing through the plant.

Because they are trained, recycling center employees do a better job keeping bundled materials clear of contamination that could cause a buyer to reject a bundle. The recyclable materials are bundled and sold as commodities, where they find new life in everything from detergent bottles to new automobiles.

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