- This summer, 12 Waste Management interns have been going door-to-door in 11 cities around Washington's Puget Sound area to educate their fellow residents about proper recycling methods, according to KCTS.
- The state's recycling rate is still one of the best in the country, but has recently dropped from 51% in 2011 to 48.9% in 2013.
- Now in its fourth year, this program has reportedly reached more than 50,000 people and helped create a seven million-pound increase in the amount of recyclables being diverted.
Waste Management studies demographic trends throughout the year to see which communities need additional education, and also recruits multilingual interns who can help communicate with different populations. Residents of the Seattle metropolitan area speak more than 170 languages and that can sometimes be a barrier to understanding local recycling systems.
The other big challenge is that multi-unit buildings in the region recycle approximately 20% as compared to 60% in single-family homes. Contamination from one unit can potentially send an entire building's waste to the landfill, so it's crucial to help people realize what they need to be doing. This is also a challenge in other cities such as Chicago where enforcing compliance in multi-unit buildings has become a highly charged issue.
Recent studies have found that the majority of U.S. residents have access to recycling programs for common materials, but getting them to participate isn't always so easy. The Recycling Partnership has teamed up with the Environmental Protection Agency for a study of 400 curbside programs to analyze potential challenges. The nonprofit is also working on a campaign in four Massachusetts municipalities this summer to test out various hyperlocal education methods.