- Most cities and towns in Arizona fall well below the national average rate of 35% for diverting trash from landfills to recycling, according to an Arizona Republic analysis. Phoenix's residential rate in 2014-15 was 20%, and would be closer to 14% if all of the trash that is taken to transfer stations by landscapers, construction crews, and residents were counted.
- Other towns with low recycling rates include Glendale, at less than 10%; Tempe, 11%; Mesa and Gilbert, 22%; Scottsdale, 17%; and Peoria, 23%.
- Chuck Hamstra, deputy public works director for Phoenix, said the state generally has no government mandates or financial incentives for recycling, and other states may calculate diversion rates differently. "Our programs are all voluntary and we allow the market to set our rates," he said. "We don’t have any economic or artificial incentives put in place by law like they do in California.’"
There are a number of reasons for Arizona cities' low recycling rates, the Republic noted. Many apartment complexes don't offer recycling, most cities don't have "green waste" initiatives because there is ample landfill space, and it's cheaper to throw kitchen and garden waste into the trash.
The Arizona Recycling Program statute of 1990 was designed to promote recycling programs. However, state-funded grants distributed to cities and towns for recycling education and programs ended in 2009.
One bright spot is Mesa, whose residential diversion rate is 29%, said Mariano Reyes, a spokesman for the Environmental Management & Sustainability Department. The rate is 32% when counting the one-third of single-family households that have signed up for the green-barrel yard waste program.
It's clear that state and local governments play a large role in encouraging recycling. California continues to be a model for reducing waste to landfills since the state began requiring municipalities to cut their landfill shipments in 1989. Now, a 2011 goal urges the entire state to cut landfill shipments by 75% by 2020.