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[greenyes] Recycling Costs and Diversion

Frank Mazur asks:
"Can someone provide me a sample of what it costs communities to recycle on
per capita basis and what percent of their trash is recycled? Is there any
national averages or benchmarks that can be used to measure the cost
effectiveness of these programs in our communities or states?"

There is no single number for the cost per capita to provide curbside
two-stream recycle collection on a weekly basis, but a rough idea would be
in the order of $12 per year, based on $2.50/HH/Mon.

Note, however, that this is a gross number and that there are offsetting
savings that enter into a full cost analysis. Well known in this regard are
the net revenues (after sorting costs) from the sale of the recyclables, as
well as the avoided tipping fees at the landfill. Not as well known is the
fact that in most cases programs which divert more than 25% of waste
previously discarded can also avoid part of the costs of collecting trash.
Together, in well run programs with access to solid markets over the average
prices of the commodity cycle, the net of the cost of the second fleet of
trucks against all of these savings is either zero or slightly positive for
recycling. You may want to review an article on these points that we wrote
for Resource Recycling, Anderson, Dreckmann and Reindl, "Debunking the Two
Fleet Myth," Waste Age (October 1995).

Recycling typically will divert 20%-25% and banning yard debris from
landfilling (which is done in 22 states) increases diversion by another
15%-30%, depending upon how temperate its weather -- though there are
several states and many municipalities which do far better (Nova Scotia, San
Francisco and you others, please tip your hats).


Peter Anderson, President
4513 Vernon Blvd. Suite 15
Madison, WI 53705-4964
Ph: (608) 231-1100
Fax: (608) 233-0011
Cell: (608) 698-1314
eMail: anderson@no.address

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