GRN Recycle Talk FAQ

Date: Wed Jul 09 1997 - 06:41:00 EDT

Date: Wed, 9 Jul 97 11:41 WET DST
Subject: Re: Curbside recycling yield

July 9, 1997

The state of curbside recycling is dictated by externalities having to do with economics, convenience, and expansion of the programs. It is true that after a critical mass of time, revenues tend to decline. But this has to do with contracts and the negotiating and political process, as well as the market for recycled materials, not on a theoretical hump that says that participation or yield declines after a set amount of time. The experiences of numerous communities bear this out. For example, 1981-1991, Orlando, VL s curbside program was studied, was changed, but not on the basis of lower yields. Rather on the basis of escalating costs and the need for cost control.
Several other studies have indicated that curbside collection is ineffective in some venues (i.e. rural or highly urbanized). A 1992 Canadian study indicated that between 40 and 50% of households participated on a weekly basis and that this did not change over 5 years.
However, in a poor inner city neighborhood, curbside participation was only about 20%, and this despite active education and modeling programs.

Kalamazoo County, Michigan had its diversion rates keep climbing throughout the period of 1989-1994. The article on this (in BIOCYCLE, 2/96) did not mention any fall off of participation, though I confess to not having read the article that closely, if you want to.

My data chiefly comes froma 3 volume set of studies In-Depth Studies of Recycling and Composting Prgorams: Designs, Costs, Results by US EPA, put out in 12/93 under # EPA 530-X-93-006a-c. You can find some examples of what you are looking for if you look hard enough. But it is by no means supportative of your proposition to find 5-10 out of 100 or 110 communities for whom this may have been the case. Thresholds of participation are reached. But not what you refer to as yields decline.

There is no average yield, unless you want to read the entire set, create a data set and conduct an average for all of the programs curbside components.

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