GAIA Zero Waste MasterPlan - Page 81

Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) 81
waste management policies should prioritize
reducing the amount of waste entering landfills
in the first place, with a focus on organic waste.
Mixed Waste Processing
A mixed waste processing system allows
consumers to place all discarded materials
- organics, mixed recyclables, and landfillbound waste - in a single bin that gets sent to
a materials recovery facility for sorting by a
combination of human hands and machinery.
Mixed waste sorting facilities are sometimes
referred to as “Dirty Material Recovery Facilities”
(MRFs). Dirty MRFs are more likely to have
hazardous materials such as rotting meat,
dirty diapers, and medical waste that threaten
recycling workers’ health and safety on the
sorting line because garbage is mixed in with
recyclables.[21] Proponents of mixed waste
processing argue that it takes the sorting
burden off the consumer, requires no public
education efforts, and captures recyclables
from the waste stream that may have been
missed through initial recycling separation.
However, recyclables recovered from mixed
waste processing are low in both quantity
and quality. Many end-market buyers do
not purchase from mixed waste processing
facilities.[22] Furthermore, lack of consumer
education is a missed opportunity to start
building the cultural shifts required to change
21 GAIA, Partnership for Working Families, MassCOSH,
& National Council for Occupational Safety and Health.
(2015). Sustainable and Safe Recycling: Protecting
Workers Who Protect The Planet.
22 Resource Recycling Systems & Institute of Scrap
Recycling Industries. (2016). Mixed Waste Processing &
Desirability of Recovered Paper Market Survey.


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