UPDATE: Ecology's new website will be live on Monday morning! Our official web address will be https://ecology.wa.gov

Improving Commingled Recycling in WA photo identifier

Improving Commingled Recycling in WA

Commingled Recycling Bin

Commingled Recycling: Mixing recyclable materials for the purposes of efficient collection and greater public participation.

Washington used to collect residential recyclables at the curb through a variety of methods. The three-bin sorting system was the first. While still in use in one area of the state, this method declined as all-in-one cart commingled systems increased in Washington and across the country in the early 2000s. More than 85 percent of Washingtonians have access to curbside recycling, and the vast majority are using a commingled system.

There are two types of commingled recycling collection systems: single stream and dual stream.

  • Single stream is the most common and it means that residents are given one cart and all accepted materials go in that cart.
  • Dual stream could mean that the resident gets two carts: one for materials made of paper and one for materials made of plastics, aluminum, glass and metal. Or residents get a cart for all materials except one (typically glass), which is put in a bin next to the cart.

The challenge with a commingled collection system is differing recyclables are mixed together and must be separated to sell back to manufacturers to make new products and packaging.

UPDATE: Upcoming changes in China’s policy on accepting imports of recyclable paper and plastic are having significant impacts on recycling programs in Washington. Please read our Frequently Asked Questions for more information on this evolving issue.