NYC Facility Sets the Bar for Single-Stream Recycling

NYC single-stream optical recycling machine

Make recycling easier and people will actually do it. Read on to see what I’m yapping about. A first-of-its-kind optical sorting system is one of the most efficient recycling machines in the nation. Action Environmental Group of the Bronx, New York borrowed recycling innovation ideas from all over the world – Canada, Europe and Germany – to build one of the most technologically advanced recycling machines in the U.S.

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Single-stream recycling is available in many cities across the country, but the optical recycling technology promises to streamline the sorting process to make it more efficient, accurate and more automated than ever before.

"Leveraging world-class technology, the Optical Sorter allows Action Environmental Group to do what everyone wants to do -- reduce waste to landfills, and does it even better," commented Action CEO, Ron Bergamini. "Our facility is the only one of its kind in the region, and arguably the country."

How it All Works

The fully-automated optical sorting units are able to separate any type of recyclable material (i.e., white paper, magazines, PET plastics, etc.) using a four-step process:

  1. Mixed-loads of recyclables are placed in metering bins via a large grapple arm. The debris is then placed on a conveyer belt.
  2. Infrared technology and high-speed cameras “tell” 174 air jets to separate the material chosen to be removed from the waste stream.
  3. Two magnets – 1 for tin and 1 for aluminum – pull these metals from the mix
  4. The final sorter removes all the PET plastics

What it means for Area Residents

The biggest advantage for Action Carting customers is that separating your recyclables may be a thing of the past. Single-stream recycling means you simply toss all of your recyclables into one bin. As I said, this isn’t a new concept, so some people may not see any changes on their end.

Here’s a list from Action Carting showing “acceptable” and “not acceptable” items:

Action Carting acceptable and not acceptable recyclables

Benefits of Single-Stream vs. Mixed Loads

It’s easier. That about sums it up from a homeowner’s standpoint. Why separate paper, plastic, metals, etc. into their own separate recycling bins when it’s just so much easier to dump it all into one?

Another major benefit of single-stream recycling is it seems to get people to recycle more. It’s estimated that homeowners recycle 40% more stuff when they don't have to sort it.

So, it’s no surprise that single-stream recycling facilities are popping up as fast as they can build them in communities around the country. As of 2010, about 64% of recycling facilities utilized single-stream technology while just 34% used only “old school” mixed-load processing machines.

Let’s See this Thing In Action: