A Closer Look

THE AMERICAN FOREST and Paper Association (AF&PA), Washington, D.C., recently released a report analyzing the total costs of single stream recycling. Conducted by Jaakko Pöyry Consulting, Tarrytown, N.Y., and Skumatz Economic Research Associates, Superior, Co., the study found that while single-stream curbside collection reduces a recycling program's collection costs and increases the amount of materials gathered, fiber quality is reduced at pulp and paper mills, increasing overall recycling expenses.

Little or no research has assessed the overall costs of single-stream collection versus dual-stream systems, according to the report. However, key findings in the AF&PA study should help companies and municipalities to assess what recycling program best fulfills their financial goals, according to the association.

Among the study's findings were:

  • Overall systemwide expenses increased an average of $3 per ton for paper collected in single-stream programs, which includes costs for collection, processing at materials recovery facilities (MRF) and mill utilization.

  • Curbside collection costs are approximately $15 per ton lower for single-steam programs.

  • Mills incurred increased operating and maintenance costs of approximately $8 per ton when using recovered paper from single-stream programs.

  • Sorting costs at MRFs averaged $10 per ton more for single-stream recycling programs.

For more study information, call the AF&PA at (202) 463-2700 or visit the agency's Web site: www.afandpa.org.