5 Programs for Improving Local Waste Recycling
Article From Houselogic.com
By: Jane Hodges
Published: February 02, 2010

Unique waste recycling programs help save tax dollars by diverting trash from the landfill and into the recycling stream.

Recycling waste helps communities decrease the need for landfills, reduces pollution, and can raise a city's profile as a "green" place to
live. A good waste recycling program indirectly influences home values and community wealth because cities that succeed at recycling
spend less on trash disposal, leaving more money for other needs such as schools, parks, and police.

Want to encourage local government to improve recycling options in your community? Consider advocating for one of these five novel
recycling programs:


RecycleBank(http://www.recyclebank.com) partners with cities, haulers, and merchants to reward consumers. The program provides
homeowners with bar-coded recycling receptacles that haulers weigh and scan at pick-up. Homeowners earn points for each pound
recycled, and redeem points for discounts at local stores.
The company says rewards average $15 to $20 per month at local grocery stores, or run higher for other purchases (such as 10% off
jewelry or electronics). In Ivyland, Pa., average monthly recycling under RecycleBank grew to 34 pounds from 17 pounds per household.
The downside: While about 250 cities have the program, and in a tight economy, your local leaders may hesitate to pay upfront costs.
Philadelphia used a federal grant to launch its RecycleBank program.


To motivate recycling, some cities offer Pay as You Throw(http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/tools/payt/tools/smart-bet/index.htm)
garbage billing, where consumers pay for garbage by weight rather than by flat fee. Homeowners who recycle and compost more throw
less into garbage and therefore pay less for garbage service.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says Pay as You Throw saved San Jose, Calif., $4 million annually. A Duke University study
found Pay as You Throw increases recycling participation by 32% to 59%, depending on a city's recycling levels at launch.
The downside: Illegal dumping rose in some cities using these programs, so encourage local government to establish new (or higher)
dumping penalties when they launch Pay as You Throw.


When cities let consumers throw all recyclables-cans, paper, bottles, and some plastics-into one bin, recycling is easier. When it's easier
to recycle, more people do it. Called "single stream" recycling, it increased recycling in Madison, Wis., 25% the year it was implemented,
and the city's net recycling cost per household dropped by about $1.
The downside: It costs money to adjust existing recycling infrastructure and to add city staff to sort recycled items. The upfront costs may
be recouped if residents recycle more.


Cities are replacing their own trash cans with BigBelly(http://www.bigbellysolar.com/) solar-powered trash compactors to reduce the
drive-around time required by waste haulers. The BigBelly uses solar power to compact the trash and wireless technology to notify
haulers when the compactor is full. That reduces the number of times haulers must come to collect from a particular trash can and
increases the amount of garbage going into the can before it's filled.
Philadelphia officials estimate the 500 BigBelly cans they're deploying will lower the city's garbage collection costs by $850,000 during
the first year of use.
The downside: Your town's elected official may hesitate to install BigBelly products because the cans are expensive. Cities may also
need to assess whether overall trash volumes, or trash levels at a particular location, makes them justifiable.


Just because local garbage haulers don't take all recyclables at the curb doesn't mean that the city or a locally-run recycling or reuse
program can't recycle them. If provided with the right information, consumers can save on dump fees that typically start at $10 (depending
on their city and transfer station policies), keep their unwanted items out of landfills, and maybe make money off their junk.
Spur your city to communicate online and off line about local recycle and reuse programs, and bring new programs to leaders' attention.
For example, Kashless(http://www.kashless.org) lets people post used items they want to give away (or find) for free, creating a
marketplace for swaps and providing consumers with "green action" reward points that translate into discounts at local stores
GreenDisk(http://www.greendisk.com/) charges $6.95 to recycle up to 20 pounds of computer-related waste.
Salvage stores like Seattle's Second Use(http://www.seconduse.com); Brattleboro, Vermont-based ReNew
Salvage(http://www.renewsalvage.org); or The Rebuilding Center(http://www.rebuildingcenter.org) in Portland, Ore., re-sell old building
materials to folks eager to source historic materials.
Gardeners with overflow edibles can channel food into local city harvest programs, keeping even more food waste out of their garbage.
Neighborhood Fruit(http://www.neighborhoodfruit.com) offers a guide to sharing, and finding, excess produce.
The downside: City officials may hesitate to endorse non-profit or for-profit businesses that pick up where city services leave off, so you
may need to persuade local government to mention these businesses as resources that are available locally-but not necessarily
"city-approved" organizations.

Jane Hodges has written about real estate for publications including The Wall Street Journal, MSNBC.com, and The Seattle Times. She
lives in Seattle in a 1966 raised rancher with an excellent retro granite fireplace. She and her husband recycle and compost food scraps

Reprinted from HouseLogic (houselogic.com) with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS (R).
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
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