John Culbertson


Presentation Title

Measuring Composition and Contamination at the MRF

John Culbertson, Vice President, MSW Consultants, LLC


Many local governments rely on single stream composition estimates to establish pricing in their MRF processing contracts, and in some cases a physical sampling and sorting study is used to determine the initial composition. MSW Consultants has conducted these studies for multiple suppliers and processors across the U.S., including ongoing quarterly audits for a large Northeast city and its single stream processor. This presentation will discuss the methods for characterizing single stream recycling composition and measuring contamination at the MRF, including lessons learned and suggested best practices.  It will review national and regional contamination rates from published studies.  It will also share critical insights about the accuracy and variability of these studies based on 3 years’ worth of quarterly data. Finally, the presentation will offer a brief look at an innovative solution that applies these best practices with a cloud‐based composition data management platform to standardize ongoing composition and contamination monitoring and to make such composition analysis much more affordable.


Mr. Culbertson has dedicated his career to providing waste management and recycling consulting services to federal, state, county and city governments and organizations in Florida and across the nation.   His expertise encompasses all aspects of the waste management industry, including solid waste system planning and strategic analysis; financial analysis and system funding; procurement assistance and contract negotiation; collection efficiency and routing; transfer and long-haul logistics; MRF operations and efficiency; waste stream and waste generation analysis; and a wide range of information management and statistical analysis.