Clarification at end of article.
Rochester, N.Y. – Recycling is a way of life in Lisa Murphy’s Brighton house.
“I would say probably 90 percent of what gets brought to the curb is in recycle bins,” she said. “We don’t have a lot of trash really at all.”
Even guests to Murphy’s home know to recycle. She has bins in the kitchen, bathroom and garage. There are separate bins for paper, plastics, aluminum and glass.
“I’ll bring out seven or eight recycle bins to the curb and my trash bin will have maybe one bag in it,” she said.
The items get picked up by a trash hauler that has separate compartments for recyclables. The truck goes to the Monroe County Recycling Center, which takes in 175 tons a day. The items arrive presorted and workers process paper and containers in separate lines.
It’s known as a dual-stream recycling facility. Within two years, the center will become a “single-stream” facility. Waste Management, which runs the center, will spend $3.5 million to install technology that will allow recyclables to be sorted at the plant. There will be a conveyer belt where items will be scanned and sorted.
When the facility goes single-stream, residents at home will not have to sort their recyclables anymore. Communities that have gone single-stream have seen an increase in recycling participation. Some trash haulers want customers to use large totes instead of the smaller blue bins.
“It makes it easier,” said Russ Rutkowski, a Monroe County Recycling Center operations official. “The question of, should I put this pie tin there? Should I put this piece of plastic in there? You’re going to put it in there anyways.”
In anticipation of the single-stream move, the City of Rochester is looking to hire a consultant to review recycling pickups. The review will examine the trucks, staffing and blue bins.
When Murphy lived in California, she threw all her recyclables into one large tote. She would like to go back to that system.
“Yeah it would be a lot easier if there was a one-tub system,” she said. “And I think more people would definitely start recycling.”
Clarification: Some viewers have pointed out they don't sort their recyclables now, as they put both paper and containers in the blue bin together. But they likely put paper on the bottom of the bin and the containers on the top. In the future, there will be no need to pack the bin in a certain way. Everything can be mixed together. This is why some trash haulers have opted for large totes, which have a greater capacity than bins.