The End of Dry Mixed Recyclable Bins for Businesses?
August 29, 2018
It’s a hot topic at the moment, on the lips of waste producers and handlers up and down the country, with people asking ‘Are we seeing the end of Dry Mixed Recyclable bins?’.
In this article, we will explore the reason why this bin has failed to become a mainstay of British recycling, and why skips will stand the test of time (we hope).
Too much contamination
The problem with a DMR bin is that once the rain gets into it, or food accidentally ends up inside, it’s as good as contaminated. With skips, we can take all of the same materials that a DMR bin can, and more, and we can still manage to recycle the contents, even if they’re not in pristine condition. Contamination has forced the waste industry to look at single stream bins for businesses, so for those with multiple bulky waste streams, a skip is still the best solution.
Separated, and then mixed again!
Many business owners have been through the horrified experience of seeing their general waste and DMR be lifted and then emptied into the same truck. The business owner then stands there scratching their head, thinking ‘Why did I just separate that waste, for them to mix it all together anyway?’.
This bad practice not only encourages contamination, but it upsets customers and looks really bad for resource efficiency. However, the customer may pay £10 for a DMR bin, and £20 for a general waste bin, and so while they may think ‘I might as well chuck everything in general waste’, they continue separating waste because it saves them £10.
No value in recyclables
Dry Mixed Recyclables used to be able to be baled up and sold, with the customer knowing roughly how much paper, cardboard and plastic was in there. Now, there’s no value in these bales, and recycling customers only want very clean, separated materials. If you’re going to take the time separating waste between general waste and DMR, it’s better to have separate bins to actually encourage the recycling process, otherwise your waste will likely be incinerated.
China doesn’t want our waste
China has reduced their recyclable waste imports from the UK by more than 95%, almost completely shutting down our biggest waste export market. For many businesses, this is a disaster, because now they’re overflowing with waste and it is piling up in ports, which also fuels the massive drop in price and makes it even harder to sell and have recycled.
We collect all accepted waste streams in one skip, and then go to great efforts and use a lot of different technologies to separate materials. Once separated, we have partners who clean them, and partners who purchase them. Whilst China has affected some of our routes, we’ve remained flexible, and are doing a lot of recycling in house.
It’s also been a great concern to many UK customers of DMR bins that their waste, not being able to be recycled, is going straight to the incinerator, or worse, landfill. That propagates the question of ‘What’s the point in separating if it all gets wasted anyway?’
Hmm, which bin do I use?
Having a DMR bin once looked like an attractive prospect to those who were not that interested in recycling, as it first appeared to be a one-size-fits-all solution to a messy problem. However, DMR bins are not as versatile as skips, and tended to create more confusion than they solved, and wasted staff time by figuring out if materials were accepted or not. If the staff got it wrong, it often led to contamination or even more wasted time.
No value to customers
With all of these considerations, the DMR bin has stopped offering significant value to customers, and that is ultimately why it has begun its fast demise, with businesses rolling them back and returning to a system of separate bins for separate waste. This shift back to how the market used to be proved that this was a failed experiment, but it didn’t come without its rewards.
Skips continue to prevail as the mixed waste receptacle of choice, ousting DMR bins once again. We believe skips will stand the test of time, that is, until we figure out alchemy…
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