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recycling carts

How to Drive Successful Recycling Programs

recycling cartsA recycling report by the EPA and The Recycling Partnership, The 2016 State of Curbside Report, analyzes 465 municipal recycling programs across the US and suggests ways to improve curbside recycling.

The federal agency and the nonprofit, whose members include P&G and Waste Management among other companies, say this data is critical to increasing recycling rates in the future and moving towards a circular economy approach. The two organizations teamed up earlier this year to look at trends and gaps in curbside recycling in the US.

Because there are about 20,000 incorporated communities in the US, each making their own waste and recycling decisions, this study is not a representative sample of all curbside recycling programs, the report says.

It does, however, note certain program attributes that increase recycling rates across communities. The majority (97 percent) of the highest-performing programs collect material single-stream, which makes it easier for customers because they don’t have to separate materials.

Similarly, offering recycling wherever trash pickup is available, using carts to collect recyclables, and having robust engagement from municipal recycling program managers are also keys to successful programs, the report says.

Communities can improve their recycling programs by tracking data, providing automatic collection as opposed to opt-in or subscription recycling programs, using consistent messaging and information, moving from bins to curbside rollcarts, and developing material recovery facility infrastructure, it says.

The report comes as communities and corporations are increasingly setting zero waste and other aggressive waste management goals.

To achieve its goals, the city of Atlanta has partnered with Rubicon Global, which will equip the Atlanta Department of Public Works’ entire fleet of residential solid waste, recycling and yard waste trucks with smartphones loaded with the Rubicon hauler mobile app.

The cloud-based technology will collect real-time data on the fleet’s operations as well as landfill diversion and recycling rates.

Atlanta is the first city to use Rubicon’s technology to improve its waste management services.

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2 thoughts on “How to Drive Successful Recycling Programs

  1. It’s interesting that recycling programs can require so much to maintain. It makes sense that they would want to have ways to keep track of the items they are recycling! That way they can ensure that they can keep things from getting mixed up.

  2. How is “success” defined? Recycling rate? Participation rate? Single stream does get more stuff in the system, and bumps up overall tonnage…but at the cost of increasing contamination that ends up in 25% or more of what was collected being landfilled, and lowering the value of materials that do make it to a manufacturer of new products.

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