KAB Reflects on 40th Anniversary of Curbside Recycling
Since the first program in 1973, the U.S. continues to make incremental progress towards comprehensive curbside recycling. Today, 40 years later, according to EPA there are 9,000 curbside recycling programs across the U.S. providing recycling access to over 230 million Americans. This has helped communities overcome the number one known barrier to recycling: convenience. This is progress. So why do we only have a 34 percent national recycling rate? We know there is potential for curbside recycling programs to have even greater impact on reducing environmental impacts, conserving energy and bringing economic benefits to communities. To achieve these benefits we must increase participation.
Various studies have shown that residents generally prefer larger, wheeled recycling carts with lids. Further, greater container capacity results in greater quantities of recyclables. Stating the obvious, this means greater participation. Comparing programs in North Carolina, a study found that the average annual recycling amount jumps 80 percent — from 247 pounds to 445 pounds per household when using carts instead of bins. At KAB, we are also studying other approaches to increase recycling participation. In partnership with the City of Chicago and The Coca-Cola Foundation, we are working with these partners to place 25,000 residential recycling carts in Chicago neighborhoods this year. The recyclables collected using these new carts will be measured and recorded. We look forward to sharing the results about the benefits of converting to carts. Let’s celebrate the growth of curbside recycling programs over in the past 40 years, and renew country’s commitment to making recycling ever more convenient.
How do you think we can make recycling more convenient?