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

Investigator: Skumatz Economic Research Associates, Inc.

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