Signing a contract.

A new guide helps public agencies and private MRF operators craft contract language both sides find fair. | fizkes/Shutterstock

A MRF and municipality may feel their contract is fair, until a dive in commodity prices or spike in contamination leaves someone unhappy. A new report from The Recycling Partnership strives to help the parties prepare for difficult circumstances.

The Recycling Partnership, an organization backed by various recycling stakeholders, recently released a “Guide to Community Material Recovery Facility Contracts.” The document helps public agencies and private MRF operators craft language both sides find fair, despite ongoing changes in the recycling world.

“One of the key ways we can create a more resilient curbside recycling system in the U.S. is to make community and MRF contracts work better for both sides,” Scott Mouw, senior director of strategy and research at The Recycling Partnership, stated in a press release. “This Guide builds on the good work of many stakeholders on this issue and is intended to advance the best possible processing service agreements.”

Following the publication of the guide, The Recycling Partnership is leading a Resource Recycling webinar presentation on July 17 focused on this key topic. Titled “How to Build a Better MRF Contract,” the session will feature the lead authors of the report: Mouw, Liz Bedard of The Recycling Partnership, and Scott Pasternak of consulting firm Burns & McDonnell. The webinar is part of “The New Normal” series taking place in July and August.

The guide is relevant to a broad swath of the industry. The Recycling Partnership noted that nearly 4 out of 5 MRFs in the U.S. are privately run. As a result, in most communities, the public and private sectors have to work together to enable the collection, sorting and marketing of curbside and drop-off recyclables.

The guide walks readers through an overview of the MRF contracting process. After that, it dives into 11 key areas of concern: processing fees, revenue sharing, material value determination, acceptable materials mix determination, material audits, material contamination/quality, MRF performance, rejected loads and residue disposal, education and outreach support, contingencies, and reporting and communication.

Hear the experts

The Recycling Partnership will be presenting a free webinar, hosted by Resource Recycling, focused on contracts between public recycling programs and privately operated MRFs. The “How to Build a Better MRF Contract” presentation is scheduled for 2 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, July 15. Click here to register. The webinar is part of “The New Normal,” a webinar series hosted by Resource Recycling that will be taking place on Wednesdays in July and August.

The document includes case studies, as well as sample legal language from actual contracts.

The guide is intended to help “public recycling programs and MRFs develop transparent, balanced recycling processing contracts that allow each party to navigate volatile market conditions and an ever-changing landscape of consumer packaging,” according to a June 25 email announcing the report. “To achieve long-term success, local programs and MRFs should approach contracting as a partnership that achieves a true win-win outcome.”

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