Is there a way to make recycling even better for the environment than it is right now?

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    There are a few different ways that recycling can be made better, although it’s less about making it better for the environment and more about making it more efficient and user friendly for people.

    One way recycling can be more user friendly is by setting up a rewards programs. Municipalities can pay to set up a reward program for their local constituents who don’t pay to get involved, but get ‘paid’ in the form of rewards according to how many pounds of recycling they collect rather than waste. This rewards program was set up in Ivyland, PA and recycling grew from 17 pounds per household to 34 pounds. Rewards reap rewards for recycling and the environment in this case.

    Cities can also set up Pay as you Throw programs where you pay to throw away garbage. Therefore the more recycling each household does, the less they pay to throw away saving the household, the city and the environment in the long run. The only negative thing that has occurred in places where this program was set up was that illegal dumping grew. 

    Many cities, such as Madison, WI have set up a single-stream recycle system where everything recyclable can be place in the same recycle bin. City workers are then paid to sort through the recycling making it easier for households. Recycling in Madison increased by 25% when this program was implemented. The downside is that this can be costly to change in cities where the single-stream recycle system has not already been set up. However, if more people recycle using this system then costs can be offset in the long term.

    Cities can use BigBelly trash compactors that use solar energy to inform garbage collectors when the trash compactors are full. This way city workers are not driving around emptying half full compactors. City officials in Philadelphia estimate that the use of 500 BigBelly compactors will save then $850,000 in the first year of use with the increase in efficiency. The downside is that these compactors are very expensive so unless the city has a lot of trash being put into compactors then this system may not prove cost effective.

    Ask city officials to talk more about recycling programs. In cities where recycling information is well known or easily found makes recycling much easier for local residents. If city officials make their city’s recycling programs well known then it’s more likely that people will recycle.

    None of these solutions necessarily green the recycling process, but it’s less about greening the process as it is about greening people towards recycling as much as they can. Hopefully these steps will make recycling more of a necessity than a must do.

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