SB 234: Economic Efficiency of Single Stream Recycling
Yesterday, I highlighted my updated present value analysis of the benefits of reducing landfill accumulation. In my second excerpt from my comments on SB 234, I focus on the economic efficiencies of a single stream system:
Single stream collection and handling is far more efficient than older methods that require household sorting and separate handling every step of the way.Despite these economic benefits, it is worth noting that environmentalists are not entirely happy about having to give up a long cherished victory: the bottle bill passed nearly three decades ago.
These efficiencies are clearly illustrated by comparing the curbside programs run by the City of Wilmington and the Delaware Solid Waste Authority (DSWA). The DSWA runs a voluntary program that reaches about one out of every seven Delaware households, and until recently required sorting and separate handling. The DSWA charges $72 a year, and loses money on the program even though it has switched to single stream recycling.
The City of Wilmington serves all households, does not require sorting or separate handling, and uses its existing trash collection crews and trucks. The net cost to the City, even in a depressed commodity market, is less than $8 per household per year. If commodity prices were to recover, the net cost would be less than $3 per household per year.