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One bin to rule them all

Wright Disposal collecting more recyclables than ever under single stream

It's a process that's been ingrained in the American public for decades now: separate your papers from your plastics.

But now that's one mantra most Bethlehemites can forget. Robert Wright Disposal Inc. recently made the switch to single stream recycling, and already it's making a difference in how residents recycle.

For Robert Wright Disposal Inc., the change to a single stream recycling system is the biggest shift in operations since it began introducing automated arms on its trucks in the late '90s. Customers of Wright, which would be the majority of residents in the Town of Bethlehem, already know the change has been made, signaled by the arrival of a new, 64-gallon bin for recyclables.

But what does the shift mean for Wright? In short, the company is collecting more recyclables than ever before. Even though the types of items that can be recycled has not changed, being able to throw them into a single bin has meant recyclable tonnage is up about 30 percent, while the amount of garbage collected has fallen.

Jerry Wright, owner and operated of the business, attributes the shift to an easier process for his customers.

The homeowner no longer has to sort any of their recyclables, said Wright. "Our goal is to give our customers the best service possible. We feel this is the best way to pick up recyclables."

Making the change was not inexpensive for Wright. The company sunk more than $500,000 into new bins and purchased two new trucks with automated arms to handle pickup.

Rates have not increased for customers, however, because Wright hopes to make up his investment through the efficiencies a single stream system creates.

Crews can make their rounds more quickly using the automated arm instead of having to exit the vehicle to scoop up the smaller bins and sometimes go through improperly sorted materials by hand. Besides that labor efficiency, it costs more to send garbage to a landfill than the recyclables to a recycling facility. Every pound that's recycled rather than tossed away is better business for Wright.

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