DeAnne Toto


Debating the one-bin approach

Editor's Column

June 3, 2015

DeAnne Toto


One bin is a term used to describe the commingled collection of recyclables and municipal solid waste. The recyclables are recovered from this collected material using systems that resemble those used at a single-stream material recovery facility (MRF). These mixed waste processing facilities, called “dirty MRFs” by some in the industry, employ much of the same separation and sorting technology used in single-stream MRFs, though differences do exist between the two processes. And, just as single-stream sorting systems have evolved with time, so have mixed waste sorting systems.

One recent example of a current-generation mixed waste processing facility is the Infinitus Renewable Energy Park (IREP) in Montgomery, Alabama, which opened in April 2014. Bulk Handling Systems (BHS), Eugene, Oregon, designed, manufactured and installed this system, which includes screens, air and optical sorters to recover several types of plastics, mixed paper, ferrous and nonferrous metals, aseptic containers and organics.

According to Infinitus, its Montgomery advanced mixed materials recovery facility (AMMRF) is designed to recover up to 85 percent of recyclables.

Scott Saunders of Troy, Alabama-based KW Plastics Recycling, has said his company consumes HDPE (high-density polyethylene) material supplied by Infinitus’ AMMRF and has had no issues related to quality.

However, consumers of recovered paper have expressed concern about potential quality issues with material collected using one-bin systems. Myles Cohen of Pratt Recycling, Conyers, Georgia, the recycling arm of box manufacturer Pratt Industries, shares his concerns related to one-bin systems beginning on page 50 of this issue in the article “Sorting out Collection Systems.”

In that article, we also hear from Scott Holkeboer of Morristown, New Jersey-based Covanta, the company that is building an advanced materials recovery center in Indianapolis to process one-bin material. Holkeboer says one-bin systems “have many benefits for communities that have struggled to increase recycling rates and participation.”

While companies such as Covanta and Infinitus say one-bin systems could be the answer for communities with low recycling rates, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), Washington, has taken the position that one-bin systems jeopardize the quality of recyclables. ISRI has said, “Sorting before collection ensures that recyclable materials, particularly paper, are not unnecessarily contaminated and degraded.”

Where do you stand on the one-bin debate? Let Recycling Today know through our social media sites:, @RecyclingToday and


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