The town of Danvers, Massachusetts, started a mandatory recycling program in January of this year. In the first two weeks of the program the town doubled its recycling volume from 62 tons to 126 tons, providing further evidence of the benefits and why recycling should be mandatory.
Danvers’ mandatory recycling program
Under the new mandatory recycling rules, residents who do not put recycling out at the curb will not have their trash collected. Residents are informed that they must leave their recycle bins at the curb until after the trash has been collected, or the hauler will assume that the household didn’t put out any recyclables and will leave the trash behind. Furthermore, residents are limited to three 45 gallon bags, or three 50 lb. containers, of trash per household per week. Multi-family dwellings are also required to recycle, but are allowed up to five 50 lb. containers of trash per week. Conversely, the amount of recyclables that can be placed at the curb is unlimited.
Benefits of mandatory recycling
At first glance Danvers would not appear to be a candidate for a mandatory recycling law. A survey conducted by the Danvers Department of Public Works in spring 2011 concluded that participation in the voluntary recycling program was already at 70%…an impressive figure for a program that was launched only two years prior in 2009. The survey further concluded that 95% of households were putting three or fewer trash containers at the curb every week already. Why would a community that is experiencing so much success in its recycling program take the next step to make the program mandatory?
Danvers calculates that since the inception of its recycling program in 2009, disposal costs have decreased by 20%. The hope is that these costs will continue to decline as recycling volumes are forced upward. As previously stated, the first two weeks under the new program saw a 100% increase in materials collected. The city sees a real monetary benefit in forcing its residents to recycle.
Furthermore, the State of Massachusetts has been implementing waste bans that require certain items to be recycled. If those items wind up in the trash and Danvers is found to be in non-compliance, the state may impose fines or sanctions. The mandatory recycling law lessens the liklihood that this will occur.
Last, the City of Danvers has stated a firm commitment to the environment and preserving natural resources. City officials see mandatory recycling as just one more way in which they honor this commitment.
Why should recycling be mandatory?
The experience of Danvers, Massachusetts, teaches us that even successful recycling programs can see improvement when participation becomes mandatory. The leadership in this community could have been perfectly content with a 70% participation rate, which is superb by any measure. Instead they went to the next step of making recycling the law. The result was a doubling of the recycling volume, which should result in even greater decreases in disposal costs and huge benefits to the environment. Just think what could happen if recycling was the law everywhere.