What are Streams?

May 27, 2016

A Stream is what is used to divide types of recyclable refuse. Depending on the recycling program being applied in a community or business, recyclables can be divided into single or multi-stream systems for collection. While a single-stream system has all types of recycling placed in one container without the need to separate, a multi-stream system separates recyclables into different Streams of two or more. Usually, the recyclables are collected and then taken to a Municipal Recycling Facility (MRF) for processing.

Both types of Streams have their advantages and disadvantages. While a single-stream does provide the convenience of not having to separate paper, plastic and metal from each other, it has the risk of being easily contaminated by some of the contents not being properly sorted when at the MRF. A multi-stream system, though having to separate the bin contents into different Streams for collection, has the advantage of not having as much of a risk of contamination due to the contents having to be separated into different Streams.

Other Sources

Lacapra, Veronique. “With ‘Single-Stream” Recycling, Convenience comes at a Cost.” http://www.npr.org/2015/03/31/396319000/with-single-stream-recycling-convenience-comes-at-a-cost. March 31, 2015. Accessed May 4, 2016

Container Recycling Institute. “Single Stream Recycling.” http://www.container-recycling.org/index.php/issues/single-stream-recycling. Accessed May 3, 2016.