Episode 128: How Does Your Program Measure Up - Utilizing Data to Negotiate Your Next MRF Contract

November 1, 2021

In our latest episode of NothingWasted!, we bring you a dynamic session from WasteExpo Together Online, “How Does Your Program Measure Up? Utilizing Data to Negotiate Your Next MRF Contract.”

You will hear from speaker Keysha Burton, community programs manager at The Recycling Partnership (TRP). She presented the work the organization has done on “Building Good MRF Contracts,” with a focus on its Guide to Community MRF Contracts.  

Here’s a glimpse into this:

Burton explained that The Recycling Partnership believes, “The timing is right for us to have meaningful discussion with industry colleagues that will help foster much better dialogue across the system.” And “we know there are many contracts currently out there that are missing key elements, and that’s not healthy for MRFs, for communities, or the system overall.” Additionally, “there are new norms around contamination and market value; new complexities mean that there’s a need for new definitions between MRFs and communities that will help strengthen the recycling system.” Hence TRP’s guide, to help communities and MRFs come to mutually beneficial contracts.

Burton went on to discuss the need for communities to identify mutual goals as well as independent goals when developing contracts. “Mutual goals should be greater than any independent goal that a community, or MRF, has. A community’s independent goal may be predictability, while the MRF’s may be profitability—but we want them to meet in the middle with the main focus of the contract being supporting mutual goals of having stability, long-term vision, clear communication, and addressing material quality

Ideal MRF contracts, Burton explained:

  • Allow both parties to live through a range of market conditions

  • Create shared risk and reward

  • Establish strong communication and collaboration

  • Include clear expectations around acceptable materials and contamination

She dug into how such contracts are best achieved, including details and examples of TRP’s “essential 11” elements that need to be considered and addressed within contracts: processing costs; revenue sharing; material value determination; material mix; inbound audits; material quality/contamination; rejected loads and residue disposal; MRF performance; outreach support; contingencies; and reporting and communication.


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