Maryland county switches to single-stream recycling.

Houston-based Waste Management has agreed to operate a newly renovated, $7 million single-stream recycling facility in Largo, Md., which is owned by Prince George's County, Md. The agreement comes after the county decided to switch to a single stream recycling system and should save the county thousands of dollars each year, county officials say.

The 65,000 square-foot facility, which is the only publicly owned single stream facility in the state, had been used to handle the county's dual-stream recycling since 1993. It has the capacity to process 25 tons of recyclables per hour. On average, the facility is expected to receive 11,000 tons of recyclables each day, including 7,700 tons of paper and 3,300 tons of glass, plastic and metal. Dennis Bigley, deputy director of the county's Department of Environmental Resources, says the switch to single-stream recycling has simplified and increased the efficiency of the entire recycling process from collection to processing. “Our drivers can just dump their materials and go,” he says. “Plus, residents don't have to spend time sorting and separating their materials.” By using a single-stream system, the county can use fewer trucks to collect recyclables, Bigley adds. “Fewer trucks means lower operation costs,” he says. To further increase efficiency, the county also increased the number of acceptable materials it collects to include cardboard and paper products, such as books. Bigley says he expects to see an increase of at least 25 percent in the amount of recyclables collected from curbside pick-ups. Wes Muir, director of corporate communications for Waste Management, also says he expects collection and efficiency rates to increase, and that the switch by Prince George's County reflects a growing national trend toward single-stream recycling.