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My recyclables are all picked up in one truck. Are they really being recycled?

Gareth McGrath

While it might intuitively look wrong, the co-mingling of recyclables is the wave of the future, said Scott Mouw.

The state’s recycling program director said the practice works because the facilities used to separate recyclables – called material recycling facilities, or MERFs – are now automated and advanced enough to do the work themselves.

That includes newspapers mixed in with more solid, heavier recyclables like cans and bottles.

Co-mingling also saves the haulers time and money, since they don’t have to go back and have separate runs or containers for just one material, like bottles.

“We understand that it can look suspicious, and we understand the question,” Mouw said, “But we’re glad, real glad when people pay attention.”

But he added that folks should check with their local hauler or government, depending on who runs their recycling program, to see if they are setup to handle co-mingled recyclables.

New Hanover County, for example, currently isn’t with its drop-off sites and uses different dumpsters for different products.

User-contributed question by:
Kathy Fitzgerald

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2 Responses to “ My recyclables are all picked up in one truck. Are they really being recycled?”

  1. On February 7, 2010 at 10:36 am re3.org wrote:

    Thanks for the post. It is a hard concept to wrap your head around – recycling has come a long way and material can now be separated out with a lot of mechanics and people.

    *Generally a material recovery facility is shorted to MRF.

  2. On February 13, 2010 at 10:20 am William Smith wrote:

    As an operations supervisor for a solid waste company , I can tell you a little about the trucks hauling our recycle. We also have a co-mingling recycle program in Brunswick County.
    I’ve gotten calls and had some of my guys mention that some residents question why the same type of truck collects trash and recycle. Obviously this confuses some people. All our trucks are 25 yard rear load waste trucks. Therefore, you will see the exact same type of truck collecting trash as you will see collecting recycle. We do not mix MSW ( Municipal Solid Waste ) with co-mingled recycle. One day a truck may pick up MSW and the next day that truck may have a recycle route. But never do they put the two together. MSW and recycle are collected separate, dumped separate and hauled away separate.

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