Curbside recycling now serves half of the U.S. population, providing the most convenient means for households to recycle a variety of materials.
While all curbside programs differ, the most commonly included materials are “The Big Four:”
If curbside recycling isn’t available in your area, consider starting your own recycling program.
- Incinerating 10,000 tons of waste creates one job; landfilling 10,000 tons of waste creates six jobs; recycling 10,000 tons of waste creates 36 jobs.
- The national recycling rate of 30 percent saves the equivalent of more than five billion gallons of gasoline, reducing dependence on foreign oil by 114 million barrels.
- According to the U.S. EPA, recycling (including composting) diverted 68 million tons of material away from landfills and incinerators in 2001, up from 34 million tons in 1990.
- Recycling aluminum cans at the curb not only covers the cost of collecting and re-processing aluminum, but helps subsidize the collection of other recyclables.
- The U.S. EPA reports that 20 years ago, only one curbside recycling program existed in the U.S.
Curbside recycling, as we know it, exists in several ways. They include:
- Dual-stream recycling
- Single-stream recycling
Here is a little bit about each major option:
1. Dual-Stream Recycling
This is probably the most popular form of curbside recycling in the U.S. Containers go in one bin, and papers (such as newspaper, magazines and direct mail) go in another. Both bins are set out on the curb on pick-up day.
Most communities that offer this service use special trucks divided in half so workers can sort at the truck.
2. Single-Stream Recycling
This method is growing, but somewhat controversial. It provides one cart (65 or 94 gallon) where materials are commingled. Households do not have to separate any materials.
Haulers favor single-stream because it involves less trucks and pick-ups. But there are questions about whether commingled materials are more suspect to contamination.
Evidence does suggest that single-stream increases the quantity of household recyclables. Many cities have implemented single-stream programs as a result.