Recovering value from single stream material recovery facilities – An outbound contamination analysis in Florida

H. Damgacioglu, M. Hornilla, O. Bafail, N. Celik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The single stream recycling (SSR) program is a process in which all recyclable materials are deposited into a single collection bin. SSR has gained popularity in the U.S. due to its inherent abilities in waste collection, and specifically, in Florida, more than twenty counties have recently switched their recycling program from dual stream recycling (DSR) to SSR. Despite a more efficient collection process, mixing all recyclable materials into a single bin can lead to cross contamination even before reaching material recovery facilities (MRFs). This study aims to provide a better understanding of the sorting process and equipment in MRFs, and the impact of the SSR program on contamination rates in outbound materials that were processed through Florida's recycling systems. First, we investigate the audit data obtained from a currently operating MRF in Florida using mass flow analysis to identify the most problematic recyclable streams and the processes with low efficiency and high false separation rates. According to our results, the sorting rates of mixed paper, glass and plastics are under the industry standards. Moreover, we investigate the outbound contamination rates of 35 old corrugated cardboard (OCC) and 266 old newsprints (ONP) samples obtained from four currently operating MRFs in Florida. Based on the results, only 31.4% of OCC samples and none of the ONP samples were within the accepted mills’ standards for contamination rates. This study provides valuable insights for lowering contamination and raising the end-product quality by identifying the problematic contaminants and processes in sorting and separation in MRFs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)804-814
Number of pages11
JournalWaste Management
Volume102
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020

Keywords

  • Commingled recycling
  • Container contamination
  • Fiber contamination
  • Mass balance analysis
  • Separation efficiency
  • Sorting study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Waste Management and Disposal

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