A newly formed group of recycling organizations and stakeholders is weighing in on the effects of mixed waste processing on recycling.
“Coalition members know that a facility processing waste and recyclables mixed together, known as a dirty MRF, will not improve and may harm recycling,” the policy statement from the newly formed Recycling Industries Coalition (RIC) reads. RIC is made up of recycling stakeholders from across the country and initially formed to combat an Indianapolis project centered around a mixed waste processing facility, or dirty MRF.
While that facility was eventually approved by city officials, RIC “continues as a way to educate policy makers, local officials and the community about the potential negative consequences of multi-material processing facilities,” the group writes in an official release.
Mixing solid waste and recyclables, according to RIC’s official policy statement on the approach, “will severely degrade them to the point that they will only be usable for incineration, landfilling or energy recovery, which is not recycling.”
RIC members include a number of large industry groups and stakeholders, including: American Forest & Paper Association, Glass Packaging Institute, Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Knauf Insulation, Newark Group, Owens-Illinois, Inc., Paper Recycling Coalition, the Steel Recycling Institute and Waste Management.
The group’s position has been supported by the National Recycling Coalition (NRC) as well.
“NRC supports the policy adopted by the RIC in highlighting concerns with the implementation of dirty MRFs,” an NRC post states. “The NRC agrees with concerns with dirty MRFs that RIC highlighted and other concerns. Instead of relying on dirty MRFs, NRC urges communities to implement best practices for the separate collection of recyclables.”
While the mixed waste processing approach is not new, it has seen a resurgence in interest among some U.S. cities looking to boost relatively low recycling rates. Beyond the Indianapolis project, a $35 million mixed waste processing facility for residential waste opened earlier this year in Montgomery, Alabama. Houston has also continued looking into the merits of the “all in one bin” approach. According to equipment maker Bulk Handling Systems, which has released a six-part video series on the issue, mixed waste processing has evolved significantly and can now effectively separate recyclables from a mixed municipal waste stream.