Curbside Recycling – How many of us use it?

We’ve been hearing ‘roughly half of the households in town presently participate in the program.’
This is based on a preliminary report studying Hartford’s solid waste management program. When I asked the company who compiled the report what their methodology was for determining the level of participation, they reported following the truck for a couple of days and counting how may stops were made and how many locations were passed.
When I asked if they accounted for (a) multifamily locations and (b) people who might put the recycling out occasionally rather than regularly they said no. I personally observe that every one of my neighbors uses curbside recycling (8 are full time residents and 16 are part time) but on any given week only about 6 actually put out recycling. And in the case of me and my neighbor across the street, I put mine out with theirs to make it easier for the guy driving the truck. A friend of mine has a building on Quechee Main St with 5 tenants. They all recycle, but not every week. Were they counted as 1 or 5? As 1. You see the problem. The method ensured an undercount.
The correct methodology would have been to give the driver a route sheet and have him mark it up every week for a month. I believe that kind of in depth research, which could have been done during the time the study was under way, would have revealed a far higher percentage of participation, likely in the 60% – 75% range.
In addition, the tonnage suggests the participation rate is at least 60% if the average household is putting out 15 lbs. As the assumption about the average weight of recycling per household goes down, the participation rate increases. So 60% is a solid, conservative, low-end estimate.
It is also true that the town does NOTHING to let people know this is a NO-COST program. We heard from many residents last fall that they didn’t realize it was a town service that didn’t require payment, didn’t require special bins, and didn’t require residents to do anything but put their recycling out.

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