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Recycling, Contamination, Markets and MRFs: Practical Strategies for Communities, Non-Profits, and MRFs

Recycling, Contamination, Markets and Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs): Practical Strategies for Communities, Non-Profits, and MRFs

Investigator: Skumatz Economic Research Associates, Inc.

Start Date: October 2019Award Amount: $135,000

Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) can technically produce quality materials out of dual stream and single stream inputs, but were not designed or equipped to process material with 20% or more trash/contamination. This research addresses three main topics – what can be done to get cleaner materials, and what makes sense to recycle (collect and process), and is there a sustainable recycling structure. The goal is to identify feasible (short and long term) strategies for developing a sustainable recycling system for small/medium/larger communities and non-profits, providing clean-enough “commodities” that meet the needs of end-users – both domestic and international.
Objectives include:
  1. Identify a range of short- and long-term workable strategies (with supporting data and case studies) that clean up the recycling stream (in and out)
  2. Analyze tradeoffs in processing & collection to identify material mixes and processing alternatives that are economically sustainable, but optimize/provide strong recycling program performance, low contamination, and high diversion
  3. Develop template materials, case studies, and resources for guidance, and publicize the results