WIT Press

Single Stream Versus Two Stream Recycling: An Examination Of Costs And Recovery Rates Of Current Programs In Ontario, Canada


Free (open access)





Page Range

415 - 424




505 kb

Paper DOI



WIT Press


D. Lantz


In 2006, the approximately 12 million residents in the province of Ontario, Canada recycled almost 940,000 metric tonnes of material representing about 192 kg/household, up from 181 kg/household in 2005. The manner in which these materials are collected and processed varies across the 200 municipalities, but can be primarily broken down into single stream and two stream (fibres and containers) programs. Within the province, the debate continues over whether to go single stream or continue with two stream for the collection and processing of recyclables. Although larger programs have tended to go to single stream recycling under the promise of lower costs, higher recovery and ease for residents, recent research in Ontario suggests that single stream is not providing the direct benefits that municipalities expected. Costs are higher than anticipated. Recovery rates are not typically higher than for two stream programs. Perhaps, more importantly, product quality issues, particularly with the fibres from single stream programs have caused such problems with the paper mills, there is a strong indication that downgrades and significantly lower revenues for newspaper could be coming in the very near future. The lost revenues from higher value containers inadvertently being shipped in the fibres stream increases net costs further. This paper examines single and two stream recycling programs in Ontario, sharing recent data on the relative cost differentials (and why they exist) between the two types of programs. Finally, a potential solution to product quality that those municipalities that have adopted the single stream recycling approach have to address will be introduced. Keywords: recycling, economic analysis, single stream, two stream, recovery rates, recyclables revenues, product quality.


recycling, economic analysis, single stream, two stream, recoveryrates, recyclables revenues, product quality.