Friday, March 21, 2008

What's the Courant got against recycling?

In an editorial today, the Courant scoffs at the idea that residents need incentives to take part in recycling.

Hartford has contracted with RecyleBank, a company that I know a little about, for single-stream recycling. That means that all the trash goes into a single bin, the garbage is weighed by the truck at the curb, and residents receive credit, for cash coupons at participating retailers. What could be wrong with that? The hauler gets money for recylables, the city eventually receives relief on tipping fees, and residents gets incentive for minimal effort to participate.

Right now Hartford residents participate in recycling at a rate of 10%. That was the case in Wilmington Delaware when I helped put together a video piece on RecycleBank there. In six months, the recylcing rate was up to 30% (higher than most cities in the US), and the goal was 50%, where the city would begin to see relief on tipping rates.

An ardent recycling friend told me that the one drawback to single stream recycling is that sorting is not always the best and that contamination (separte recycling items mixed together must be discarded - a bottle in a paper bag for example). However, to get a city to participate at a 20-40% higher rate is a definite win.

When I spoke to Recyclebank president Ron Gonen a few years ago, I suggested we'd love to have his company in Connecticut. Glad to see he's made it here.

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