NWRA, SWANA Release Joint Positions on Issues Facing Recycling Markets

NWRA, SWANA Release Joint Positions on Issues Facing Recycling Markets

The two addenda update an original joint advisory that was issued in April 2015.

The industry’s two associations, the National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) and the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), announced two addenda to their Joint Advisory on Designing Contracts for Processing of Municipal Recyclables originally issued in April 2015.

The members of both organizations deal with collecting, processing and marketing residential recyclables. Increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of those efforts has direct benefit to companies and municipalities across North America, according to the groups, but achieving those goals is challenging because of variations in the types of materials set out by consumers and the prices paid for the materials once processed. Cooperatively addressing both changes in the residential recycling stream and price fluctuations for recyclable commodities are key aspects of successful recycling programs and contracts, according to the organizations.

“Municipalities often contract with private companies to provide some or all aspects of residential recycling collection and processing services SWANA Executive Director & CEO David Biderman said in a statement. “With these addenda, NWRA and SWANA intend to provide tools that will help our members better structure recycling programs to adapt to changes in material composition and market prices.”

“With these added guidelines, NWRA and SWANA have addressed head-on the challenges and obstacles faced by public agencies and private sector contractors in designing effective residential recycling programs,” Sharon H. Kneiss, president and chief executive officer for NWRA, said in a statement. “Our continued development and dissemination of best practices creates a solid framework to meet the ever-evolving dynamics of the recycling market.”

The first addendum, “Understanding Material Composition,” addresses variations in the types of materials recovered (i.e., the composition) of residential recyclables.

"The cause of the fluctuations may be as different as consumers changing their purchasing habits; producers changing packaging; or a material being dropped from collection because the re-sale value no longer exists," according to a joint release issued by the groups.

SWANA and NWRA said the addendum was developed to help contract parties quantify and identify material changes by auditing the content of their recyclable materials.

According to the groups' release:

The document suggests that contract parties should conduct audits before the start of a procurement process and then at regular intervals throughout the contract term. The addendum offers considerations for material composition studies as materials are delivered to processing facilities (material composition study), as they are marketed, and as recyclables and/or residual materials are transported from the facilities (through-put study).

The second addendum, “Methods of Determining the Value of Recyclables Handled at a Processing Facility,” shares methods for determining the value of recycled commodities based on the blend of materials delivered to the processing facility.

Residential recycling contracts often include steps through which a municipality and processor share some portion of the market value of the materials.  SWANA and NWRA agreed it was important for their members to have access to a resource describing approaches to calculating values of materials according to the composition delivered, processed and sold. The addendum discusses several different approaches to calculating material value based on variable material and residue (non-recyclable contaminant) streams.

The two addenda will be attached to the original Joint Advisory on Designing Contracts for Processing of Municipal Recyclables. That advisory provided comprehensive guidelines intended to improve contracting practices for municipal recycling programs. The guidelines addressed challenges facing public agencies and private industry looking to improve the effectiveness of local residential recycling programs.

A copy of the addenda to the Joint Advisory on Designing Contracts for Processing of Municipal Recyclables can be downloaded at the websites of both NWRA and SWANA.

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