Delaware updates recycling regulations to prohibit commingled collections

- Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Fibrex GroupDelaware's Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control has announced the final approval of new regulations in the state's Universal Recycling Law (URL) that will take effect on February 21, 2017. The changes include updated definitions and clarified requirements geared toward improving residential and commercial recycling rates.

One of the main updates is that any "waste services provider" is now responsible for ensuring they don't commingle waste and recyclables. If a cart or container has contaminants they can document the issue, notify residents and dispose of the material. Providers are also expected to supply adequate single-stream recycling containers to multi-family residential customers.

The regulations clarify that commercial customers are expected to conduct annual reviews of their waste stream, identify recyclables and arrange for collection to divert them from landfills. Commercial customers have been required to recycle since 2014 under the existing URL statue, but the specifications were unclear.

The 2010 URL has helped increase Delaware's diversion rate to about 43%, though the state did not meet its goal of 50% diversion by 2015. In an effort to reach a goal of 85% by 2020 officials have been working to clarify the law and get more material from the multi-family and commercial sectors. Single-stream recycling has been mandatory in multi-family buildings since 2013 and some form of recycling has been required for commercial buildings since 2014. Although not everyone has been participating correctly.

For example, willful commingling in collection trucks has been documented and some haulers expressed concern over being responsible for any contaminants that residents might put in their containers. While state officials recognized these concerns they said that haulers have the option to not accept contaminated carts and held firm on the new requirement. Other logistical challenges around placing containers outside of multi-family or commercial buildings were also recognized, though kept in the updated regulations. Additional requirements around the role of property managers in all of these situations may help alleviate some of the work for haulers.

These changes come shortly after the state released its latest batch of annual recycling grants to boost local programs. The state has also been working to update its drop-off center system. Even in a small state such as Delaware some residents in rural areas still manage their own waste and contamination had been an issue at these centers as well.

*Original by Cole Rosengren – 1/25/17 -