- Alaska Waste is offering customers in Anchorage free curbside recycling in a three-month pilot program to encourage more participation after the rate of new sign-ups has stagnated, as reported by the Alaska Dispatch News.
- The company has about 45,000 customers in the area and only 20% of them have opted into curbside recycling for $14 per month. Alaska Waste will also interview residents to understand why they don't participate in the recycling program.
- In areas of the city serviced by the municipal Solid Waste Services Department, residents automatically receive recycling bins.
City officials say that the municipal recycling rate has not seen any notable recent increases and residents seems to be set in their routines. Some may choose to use city drop-off sites rather than pay for curbside service, though that could potentially change if they saw some type of discount for having a smaller refuse cart.
Anchorage residents have proven receptive to new recycling programs in the past, as seen by the strong participation in a 2016 composting pilot program. Last summer, 250 participants brought 6.71 tons of organic waste to a drop-off site in exchange for fresh compost. An estimated 500 people expressed interest and the city plans to expand the program this year.
This group of dedicated gardeners may be a small fraction of the city's larger population, and Alaska Waste's customer base, but they show that the right type of engagement can get results. Now that the majority of U.S. residents have access to curbside options, many industry professionals say the next step is to figure out the deeper factors behind participation and education. As seen during a recent series of research interviews in Austin, people have a range of reasons for recycling and Alaska Waste may soon discover the same thing.