Shared with permission from Resource Recycling Inc. June 2019 edition.

RRSers Marissa Segundo, Anna Lynott, and Kris Kaar highlight innovations that are improving recycling programs throughout the country and overcoming the current industry challenges.

Download the full article PDF here: Innovation Amid the Unrest

Excerpt from the article:

Even before China turned the industry upside down by restricting imports, material processing operations were being forced to adapt to move ahead. Just look at the shifting stream MRFs have had to handle.

In 1960, for example, newspapers accounted for 32% of the materials recycled or composted in the U.S., according to the Environmental Protection Agency. By 2015, that amount dropped to just 5%. This is a result of additional materials entering the recycling stream and a substantial decrease in newspapers overall. The American Forest & Paper Association reports that newsprint supply has decreased more than 70% since 2000. Meanwhile, convenience-oriented packaging is more often being made of mixed or layered material composition. MRFs are challenged to capture this growing material stream.

Over the past years, the need to take action has been amplified for processors. MRFs have been slowing down belts and adding workers to improve quality standards. Many large- and medium-sized MRFs are investing heavily in recycling processing technology to achieve cleaner bales, and these investments can be seen as a dedication to the long-term viability of recycling.