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Data Corner: The ramifications of collecting less

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As communities and materials recovery facilities wrestle with challenging markets, some stakeholders are suggesting that programs should accept fewer materials for recycling.

Using EPA data, RRS estimated that removing glass and plastics other than PET and HDPE bottles would reduce the nation’s total tonnage recycled by 8 percent and lower the U.S. recycling rate by at least 2 percentage points.

These findings assume that participation and the materials still accepted would not be impacted, though in reality, program changes can cause confusion that can negatively impact collection of all materials. For perspective, the U.S. recycling rate (not including composting) only increased by 3.3 percentage points between 2005 and 2015.

Data Corner is compiled monthly by recycling consultancy RRS.

This article originally appeared in the December 2018 issue of Resource Recycling. Subscribe today for access to all print content.

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