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Changes coming for recycling center 

The company that operates the county-owned Mill Seat landfill now also runs Monroe's recycling center.

Waste Management was awarded through a competitive process the 10-year recycling center contract late last year, and took over operations on January 1. Cascades Recovery ran the center for 10 years — through two, five-year contracts — and also submitted a proposal to continue the arrangement.

County officials selected Waste Management's proposal for several reasons. Mike Garland, director of the county's Department of Environmental Services, says one benefit of the choice is financial: the recycling facility operator will give the county more money for every ton of recyclables it takes in. Other benefits are logistical, Garland says.

One defining factor was Waste Management's commitment to update the county's recycling process and equipment, Garland says.

Specifically, the company will convert the center's dual-stream operations to single-stream sorting. In a dual-stream process, the hauler separates paper from plastic and metal. This is typically done by customers before they put out their bins for pickup. In a single-stream process, everything goes into the same bin and the sorting happens at the recycling facility.

The simplicity of single-stream recycling tends to increase the amount that residents recycle, says Frank Regan, chair of the Rochester Sierra Club chapter's Zero Waste Committee. But as a trade-off, there's a risk that other recyclables may contaminate the paper, he says.

The county does expect single-stream recycling to boost residential recycling compliance, Garland says. And single-stream sorting technology is established enough now that the county is confident in it, he says.

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