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Single-stream recycling facility reclaims formerly landfilled plastics

Plastic film and rigid plastics that were once landfilled will now be recycled at Waste Management's new single-stream Philadelphia Material Recovery Facility (MRF), which is itself  part of the company's broader sustainability initiative to increase the amount of recyclable materials it recovers from approximately 8 million tons to more than 20 million tons by 2020.

's new single-stream Philadelphia Material Recovery Facility (MRF), which is itself  part of the company's broader sustainability initiative to increase the amount of recyclable materials it recovers from approximately 8 million tons to more than 20 million tons by 2020. The $20-million-plus 60,000-ft2 facility is the largest of its kind in the region and can sort and process more than 20,000 tons of newspaper, cardboard, aluminum, glass, and plastic each month. Philadelphia's single-stream residential collection program, as well as ones other communities and commercial customers in the region, will immediately begin supplying their mixed-waste streams to the plant.

Waste Management reported that by streamlining and simplifying the process of collecting and processing recyclable materials, single-stream recycling has been shown to increase recycling rates by up to 50%. Under the system, residents and commercial customers place recyclables in a single container for pickup, and when recyclables arrive at WM's Philadelphia recycling facility, magnets, screens, optical scanners, and more are used to separate, sort, and process the waste, which is then shipped out for reuse.

A 2005 Government Advisory Associates study estimated that there were 100 city and regional single-stream programs in operation in 22 states serving about 22 million people; up from 11 states and 16 million people in 2000.

Once fully staffed, the new Waste Management facility will employ more than 70 people. The facility itself was constructed using sustainable building and design techniques and was designated with LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, with siding and roofing of the processing building containing more than 80% recycled content and an advanced stormwater management systems, including a green roof on the office facility, to treat stormwater prior to release. 

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