In the last year or so, some municipalities and material recovery facility (MRF) operators have been renegotiating their recyclables processing contracts because of market fluctuations that have affected the value of recovered commodities. These fluctuations, which include declines in the value of mixed paper and
Michael Timpane, speaking during the Contracting Control session at the 2017 Paper & Plastics Recycling Conference, suggested contracts take into account the price of the sorting and cleaning services that MRFs provide. For recycling to be successful, he said, it must be based on a fee-for-service model.
The 2017 Paper & Plastics Recycling Conference, hosted by the Recycling Today Media Group, was in October in Chicago.
Timpane said municipal recycling services have evolved to compete with the convenience of solid waste services with the introduction of
While this method of collection has increased participation and diversion, it also has increased residue rates, which average 18 percent, at single-stream MRFs.
Regarding the performance of single-stream MRFs, he said they “clean
The changing recycling stream is making the MRF’s job of sorting commingled recyclables more challenging. Newspapers, glass containers and steel cans are decreasing in prevalence. Meanwhile, corrugated containers; polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles and jars; other forms of plastic packaging; and plastic bags, sacks
Given the changing nature of the recycling stream,
The composite average price for recyclables as of Oct. 1, 2017, was $71 per ton, declining from $104 per ton as of May 1 of that year, he said.
The evolving material stream and increased contamination have contributed to escalating processing costs at MRFs. Timpane said MRFs’ processing costs have increased by nearly 40 percent in the last eight years. These factors also have contributed to the growing complexity of these facilities. Modern MRFs require qualified management, more linear feet to accommodate sorting systems and more peripherals and types of machinery.
Educating the resident
Education is essential to successful recycling programs because of residential turnover and the changing material stream, Timpane said. “Single-stream contamination has and will worsen without it.”
However, he added, education can suffer during bad commodity years, which presents a risk to the municipality in the form of culpability for poor quality and risks to the hauler in the form of lower revenue or higher fees from the MRF.
Contracts should include funding for education enforcement, Timpane said, adding that “municipalities are the only ones that can enforce education.” He suggested including a clause in the contract specifying that enforcement activity falls to the municipality. “Community-based social marketing is
Incorporating additional best practices
Contracts should specify inbound and outbound material specs and minimum grades to be made.
Contracts also should specify inbound and outbound material specs and minimum grades to be made, he advised.
While contracts commonly include language related to force majeure disruptions, Timpane said acceptable instances should be spelled out and should include market disruptions, work stoppages and changes to
Additionally, he advised setting limitations on tours and other special services, which can interfere with the efficient operation of the MRF.
Municipal recycling contracts “do not run by themselves,” Timpane said, but require ongoing maintenance in the field, at the office