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Recycling Programs 

​Residential recycling programs have been around for years, but increasing public awareness of environmental responsibility provides municipalities with an opportunity to revisit their existing programs, tighten up rules and increase enforcement.

As with any recycling program, curbside recycling depends on resident cooperation. Contamination of recycling streams with garbage or non-recyclable items results in reduced efficiency and higher costs. Residents need to be encouraged to participate as partners in recycling efforts, and recycling education programs should stress the need for community support to ensure their success.

pile of plastic bottles

The City of Cambridge, MA has an irresistible online game teaching everyone about recycling and what goes where.


Wake County, NC, takes recycling seriously. They even have their own recycling website, guide and newsletter. 

Salem, MA has a flyer showing exactly what should – and should not – go into recycling containers. 

Portage, MI distributes 64 and 96-gallon containers with wheels for residents to use for its single stream curbside recycling program.


The National Recycling Coalition is a national non-profit advocacy group with members that participate in all aspects of waste reduction, reuse and recycling in North America. The Coalition represents advocates from every region of the country, in every sector of the waste reduction field. 

The EPA, despite its terrible looking website, has a toolkit to help you improve your municipal recycling program. 

RecycleSmartMA has a Recyclopedia that you can search items to see if they are recyclable or not. 


[1] Xu, D., et al. (2016) Perceived key elements of a successful residential food waste sorting program in apartments: Stakeholder views. Journal of Cleaner Production, 134, 362-370. 

[2]Bell, J., et al. (2017). Fostering Recycling Participation in Wisconsin Households through Single-Stream Programs. Land Economics, 93(3), 481-502. 


[3] Starr, J., & Nicolson, C. (2015) Patterns in trash: Factors driving municipal recycling in Massachusetts. Resources, Conservation, and Recycling, 99, 7-18.

[4] Koford, B. C., et al. (2012). Estimating Consumer Willingness to Supply and Willingness to Pay for Curbside Recycling. Land Economics, 88(4), 745-763.

[5] Gaines, L. (2014). The future of automotive lithium-ion battery recycling: Charting a sustainable course. Sustainable Materials and Technologies, 1-2, 2-7.

[6] Li, T., et al. (2016). Promoting Residential Recycling: An Alternative Policy Based on a Recycling Reward System. Games, 7(3), 21.

[7] Frantz, C. M., & Mayer, F. S. (2014). The importance of connection to nature in assessing environmental education programs. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 41, 85-89.

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