Analyzing Recycling Streams to Survive a Tough Market

July 8, 2019

PROP 2019 Annual Recycling & Organics Conference – Analyzing Recycling Streams to Survive a Tough Market

Current recycling conditions can best be described as “challenging.” A significant market for recyclable materials has dried up and other international and domestic markets are not yet capable of accepting all the recyclable materials collected. This has left recycling professionals challenged to find options for processing and marketing the materials while considering updates to programs to align them with the current market.

Solid waste professionals are positioning their programs to weather challenging market conditions and make them more sustainable. This can be done by producing quality recyclable streams that can be used as raw materials in our circular economy. A significant first step is to evaluate your recycling stream and know what materials are being collected.

Brent Dieleman’s presentation will describe recycling composition analysis and highlight how these studies – and the data that results from them – can be used to make recycling program planning decisions. Many solid waste professionals have used waste composition studies to understand the types and quantities of materials being disposed of in their communities.

Recycling composition studies can be similarly used. These studies provide valuable community-specific data on the types of materials recovered as part of a recycling program. The benefits of such studies include:

  • Understanding the type and quantity of contaminants in the recycling stream
  • Measuring the performance of recycling programs over time
  • Allowing targeted public education/outreach activities
  • Tracking compliance with local and state regulations
  • Fulfilling requirements for material processing contracts

Interest in these studies has expanded over the last two years with the tightening markets and increasing demand for clean materials in the markets that do exist. Brent’s presentation will provide specific data from recently completed recycling composition studies from across the United States. The presentation will describe the following:

  • Methods and resources necessary to complete these studies
  • Opportunities for tailoring these studies to specific local programs
  • Results for recently completed recycling composition studies from municipalities across the United States
  • Details on how the results are used to make program-planning decisions.

Following his presentation, participants will have a greater understanding of how recycling composition studies can be used to improve programs to survive tough market conditions.


Brent Dieleman, Senior Project Professional, SCS Engineers. Brent has 15 years of experience supporting municipal recycling programs all across the world. He is currently administering and completing diversion related projects under the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (PADEP) Recycling Technical Assistance Program.


Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am
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