Interventions Used to Increase Recycling with an Existing Curbside Program

Topics: Recycling, Waste management, Waste Pages: 6 (1860 words) Published: May 23, 2006

Interventions Used to Increase Recycling with an Existing Curbside Program

Interventions Used to Improve Recycling with an Existing Curbside Program Today, policy makers and waste management companies have been trying to find new ways to reduce the amount of waste entering the landfills because we are rapidly running out of space for such use. In 2000, U.S. residents and businesses produced more than 221 million tons of waste, which is approximately 4.5 pounds of waste per person per day. However, the amount of waste sent to landfills in 2000 was down 13% from the 1990 total, and the amount of waste recovered in recycling has nearly doubled during the same period (ASCE, 2005). Instead of building more landfills, there is a need to focus on methods such as recycling to keep waste out of landfills. Recycling can be more effective and less costly in every way. Landfills are sources of natural hazards which have risks both to the environment and human health. In 1999, recycling and composting diverted 64 million tons of material from entering landfills (EPA, 2005). The longevity of landfills could possibly be extended if more people recycled and if those who do recycled more. A program such as recycling is the key to extending the life of landfills. An increasingly popular program is curbside recycling. In 1978, only one curbside recycling program existed in the United States. As of 1998, there were more than 9,000 recycling programs across the nation (EPA, 2005). A program such as this has become popular because it reduces a household's cost of recycling by making it more convenient and less time consuming (Palatnik, R., et al, 2005). The benefits of recycling do not lie solely in diversion of waste away from disposal but, even more importantly, in the reduction of the amount of virgin resources that need to be harvested and processed for the manufacture of new products (Tuerff, K., 2005). The reasons to recycle today are population growth, resource availability, and environmental degradation not material scarcity and technological simplicity as it was prior to industrialization (Orenstein, 2004). The practice of recycling was a means of survival in former time whereas at least for today, we have access to anything we need without the necessity of recycling. As a result of this and our steadily increasing population, waste and pollution have grown out of control leaving us with overcrowded landfills and high pollution levels. Many waste materials are being recognized as valuable resources that should not be put in landfills (Barr, 2005). Even green waste is now being recycled into compost and mulch (Mitchell, 2005). Because of this increasing participation in recycling, recyclables have become a resource for which there is stiff competition. Almost every government and private sector waste management company now has a recycling division. Recycling is a growing demand in both residential and commercial businesses. Next to every solid waste dumpster there is almost always a recycling dumpster. In the residential area, curbside recycling has greatly increased the public's attitude towards recycling because of the convenience. When a program such as this is in place, not only does it make it possible for everyone to join in, but it makes it easy to recycle much more in quantity by not having to load it up in your car and transport it to the nearest drop off location. In addition to convenience, curbside pick-up increases the amount being recycled greatly compared to drop off locations and buy back centers. The Rutgers Center for Plastics Recycling Research estimates curbside service has the potential to recover 70 percent to 90 percent of residential recyclables, compared to 10 percent for drop-off recycling centers and 15 percent to 20 percent for buy back recycling (George, 1993). In order to continue the increase in recycling, the behaviors...

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