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Community recycling success stories | Tips For Recycling
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Community recycling success stories

To determine which factors have the greatest impact on recycling behavior we must look at existing programs in various communities. What are successful organizations doing that works, and what are other organizations doing that limits the effectiveness of their programs?  Periodically we will analyze a community that stands out in the field of recycling.

Many factors affect the success or failure of a recycling program. It is important to keep in mind that each community has its own culture, and what works for one will not necessarily work for another. Communities such as Beaverton, Oregon, Clifton, New Jersey and Ann Arbor, Michigan have very successful programs. But they are employing different techniques to get there.

When considering how to craft a recycling program, leaders must guage the attitude of the populace towards this type of activity. Does the community have a generally pro-environmental attitude or is the populace apathetic about environmental issues? Does the political environment lean to the right or to the left? What is the makeup of the population in terms of affluence? The answers to these questions will make a difference in how you design a program to maximize participation.

Beyond the attitude of the populace the attitude of community leadership towards recycling needs to be taken into account. Will the initiative experience broad support from above, or will it be a constant fight to justify the effort? Communities that have strong leadership support behind their programs tend to be more successful.

Economic factors should be considered. Do people pay to dispose of their trash or is it included in their taxes? Should you provide recycling incentives? Will recycling be more attractive as a financial options for households than landfilling? Areas where tipping fees and landfill taxes are high, and that employ pay as you throw trash disposal systems can promote recycling as a cash savings opportunity as well as being good for the environment.

Obviously you must also consider if your community can afford to shoulder the costs. Startup costs can be high. Keep in mind there are public/private partnership opportunities as well as the possibility for regional partnerships if your community cannot afford to go it alone. The commodities market ebbs and flows, and unfortunately you cannot rely on the revenue from your material stream to solely support the program.

We will feature several communities with highly successful programs in the coming days. Take note of how each community has crafted their program around the culture they are working in and how they have overcome the obstacles they have faced in getting their programs off the ground.

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