BeyondBottles Containers

Success Stories

If recycling non-bottle rigid containers is a new activity to a local government or MRF, it is always helpful to learn what others have done to successfully recycle this material. The three case studies below not only outline important components of non-bottle containers recycling programs of  two cities and one MRF, but they also provide contact information to obtain further, more detailed information.

  • Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Clearwater, Florida

Containers Case Study – Little Rock, AR

MATERIALS RECOVERY FACILITY: Little Rock Materials Recovery Facility (MRF)

WEBSITE: http://www.littlerock.org/citydepartments/publicworks/solidwaste/recycle.aspx

LOCATION: Little Rock, Arkansas

OPERATOR: Waste Management

HOUSEHOLDS SERVED: 80,000

MATERIALS ACCEPTED:
In 2012, WM’s intention was to stay competitive and progressive in a changing industry when developing their new MRF. WM decided to accept a wide range of materials including #1-7 plastics in their facility. The Little Rock MRF processes residential material from the region, including the City of Little Rock’s residential curbside program.

    Materials accepted include:

  • Mixed Paper
  • Newspaper
  • Plastic Bottles and Containers #1-7
  • Mixed rigid plastics
  • Empty aerosol cans
  • Household metals
  • Empty Glass containers
  • Cartons
  • Aluminum food and beverage containers
  • Tin & steel cans

EDUCATION AND OUTREACH:
WM’s education campaign “Recycle Often, Recycle Right” has been a key contributor in communicating and educating residents on the proper materials to recycle.

RECYCLING RECOVERY RATES:

  • Facility processes an estimated 2,000 tons, or 4 million pounds, of total recyclables per month.
  • Approximately 10% of the MRF’s total recyclables is estimated to be mixed plastics.

CHALLENGES:

  • Overall, the MRF has not dealt with any particular challenges in accepting non-bottle rigid plastics.
  • Issues with food residue on all recyclables has always been a problem, resulting in the MRF’s highest levels of contamination at an estimated 33 percent.
  • Moving all recyclable materials to the market has been a second issue the MRF has dealt with, although not impossible to sell the baled material, the process has been slowed and the prices is not always what they are hoping for.
  • The MRF knows commodity prices rise and fall, and hope the market eventually turns to the right direction soon.

LESSONS LEARNED:

  • To help keep the recycling stream as clean as possible, the Little Rock MRF relies on education and communication efforts.
  • Using the findings of their routine audits of truck routes and recycling bins, the MRF has turned to boots on the ground efforts to tag carts with a high contamination rate and educate those residents about what is accepted and what is not.

EXAMPLE OF EDUCATIONAL RESOURCE:

Little Rock Collection

CONTACT INFORMATION:
Rusty Miller
Plant Manager, WM Recycling
JMille15@wm.com

Click here to download a PDF of this Case Study

 

Little Rock MRF

Containers Case Study – Albuquerque, NM

MUNICIPALITY: City of Albuquerque, NM

WEBSITE: https://www.cabq.gov/solidwaste/recycling/residential-curbside-recycling

POPULATION: 557,169

IMPLEMENTATION OF CURBSIDE RECYCLING: 1994

INITIAL MATERIAL LIST:

  • Aluminum
  • Tin Cans
  • Glass
  • Plastic #1-2
  • Paper
  • Cardboard

CURBSIDE RECYCLING EXPANSION: 2013

EXPANDED MATERIALS LIST:

  • Added Plastics #3-7 Bottles and Tubs
  • Rigid Plastic Toys and Hampers
  • Mixed Paper
  • Cartons
  • Small Electronics and;
  • Pots and Pans

REASONS FOR EXPANDING:

  • City signed an agreement with Friedman Recycling
  • Partnership aligned with the City’s newest processing needs and met their goals for increasing diversion through the addition of cart-based curbside recycling and expanding the number of acceptable materials collected to include all plastics.
  • In 2013, City distributed over 140,000 carts to their residential customers.

EDUCATION AND OUTREACH:

  • The city educated residents on the new expanded material list through flyers, social media and website updates. The City also uses short Educational Videos to educate their residents on how to recycle at home.
  • HOW OFTEN DO THEY EDUCATE: Education is never complete and continues to be an ongoing effort. The City uses campaigns such as their current “2 More Pounds” effort to remind residents to recycle and educate the community on the materials accepted in their program.

PLASTIC RECOVERY VOLUMES:
PRE-EXPANSION: 469 tons of #1-2 Plastics
POST-EXPANSION: 1,897 tons of all plastics (total recycling program tonnage: 34,890 tons)

Collection Growth Graph Alb

CHALLENGES:

  • The main challenge Friedman Recycling encountered were not related to the addition of new plastics, however, in general the MRF saw a slight increase in contamination, approximately 11.8% in their routine recycling composition audits
  • Contamination levels continued to rise in 2015, approximately 20 percent compared to 11 percent pre-expansion levels.
  • The City believes these increased levels of contamination were due to an insufficient continuous education program to residents. Friedman is willing to work with the city to educate residents in order to decrease their current contamination levels.

LESSONS LEARNED:

  • Encourages cities to concentrate on educating residents early
  • Recommend researching how to best describe and represent certain materials to avoid resident confusion from vague or general terminology. Using specific examples instead of just using “Plastics” to describe your accepted materials.
  • Employ creative educational messaging and communicate to residents simply and clearly about what is and what is not accepted in the recycling program.

EXAMPLE OF EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES:

web downloadable ABQ 001

 Click here to view Albuquerque's Educational Video Series

CONTACT INFORMATION:
Jill Holbert
Associate Director
Solid Waste Management Department
City of Albuquerque
505-761-8342
jholbert@cabq.gov 

Click here to download a PDF of this Case Study.

ABQ Recycling Truck    ABQ Recycles Cart

Containers Case Study - Clearwater, Florida

MUNICIPALITY: City of Clearwater, FL

WEBSITE: http://www.clearwater-fl.com/gov/depts/solid_waste/single_stream.asp

POPULATION: 110,703

IMPLEMENTATION OF CURBSIDE SINGLE STREAM RECYCLING: 2013

EXPANDED MATERIALS LIST:

  • All plastics 1 thru 7 (no polystyrene foam, plastic bags or wrap)
  • Wide-mouth plastic and rigid plastic containers
  • Glass bottles and jars
  • Cardboard
  • Milk and juice cartons, and juice boxes
  • Empty aerosol cans
  • Aluminum and steel cans
  • Plastic bottles
  • Newspaper
  • Mixed Paper - if you can rip it, you can recycle it. This includes office paper, magazines and catalogs, junk mail, shredded paper, phone books, paperback books, cereal and food boxes, envelopes, shoe boxes, wrapping paper and folders.

REASONS FOR EXPANDING:
In 2012, Clearwater conducted a single-stream cart-based pilot program in select neighborhoods which led to a citywide rollout of single stream collection in September 2013.

EDUCATION AND OUTREACH:
The City’s advertising campaign “Do More Blue” promoted the ease of the recycling cart. Their program launch included bill inserts, road signage, recycling truck wraps, direct mail and an information packet with recycling cart delivery

RECYCLING RECOVERY RATES:
PRE-EXPANSION: 286.51 tons or 573,020 pounds of #1-2 plastics
POST-EXPANSION: 663.20 tons or 1.3 million pounds of all plastics the first year.
The program saw an average set out rate of more than 70 percent and diverted 5,305.63 tons of total recyclables or 10.6 million pounds in its first year. As of fiscal year 2015, Clearwater was recycling 5,631.67 tons or 11,263,340 pounds of mixed recycling annually.

Collection Growth Graph Clearwater

CHALLENGES:

  • Before their expansion, Clearwater’s MRF did not have the capacity to process single-stream material. The Solid Waste Department transported the commingled material to Waste Management’s (WM) MRF in East Tampa, more than 25 miles from City. Contamination and diving commodities markets made the change to single stream a challenge for Clearwater.
  • Despite efforts to educate residents, contamination is still prevalent. The City believes these increased levels of contamination were due to an insufficient continuous education program to residents.
    LESSONS LEARNED:
  • Education is key to reduce contamination rates and improve the quality of recycling. Clearwater’s Recycling Specialist spoke of the powerful impact of resident education on the City’s contamination rates for the entire recycling program.
  • At the end of 2015, Clearwater had begun a recycling incentive program. More than 6,600 residents have subscribed so far. Clearwater hopes that through ongoing education and the construction of a new single stream MRF, residents will recycle the correct plastics and other recyclables collected by the City.

EXAMPLES OF EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES:
Excerpt from Yearly Mailer:

Clearwater mailer

Excerpt From Multi-Family Recycling Brochure:

Multi Family Recycling Clearwater 002

CONTACT INFORMATION:
Katrina Miller
Recycling Specialist
City of Clearwater
kattrina.miller@myclearwater.com
(727) 562-4933

Click here to download a PDF of this Case Study

Clearwater Do More Blue Truck