Last week I told you about the project I’m working on with solid waste and recycling collection in the state of North Carolina. While that is an ongoing process, and one that I will present on at the APWA Solid Waste Division Annual Conference in mid-August, last week I also began dipping my toes into a new project: Away From Home Recycling (AFH). AFH Recycling is defined as a recycling service that is provided at locations other than a residence, workplace, or school and can include downtown and pedestrian areas, beach accesses, gas stations/convenience stores, places of public transit, parks, athletic complexes (not including school sports fields), public events, and rest areas. The idea behind Away From Home is to ‘twin the bin’, a phrase you may have heard before. This means placing a recycling bin next to an existing garbage can, or alternatively, installing a combination recycling and trash container. This encourages people to recycle out of convenience and access and can increase recycling tonnages and diversion rates for municipalities.
Through this project I’ve been reading grants that NC DEACS has given out to municipalities and counties for their efforts in AFH Recycling. We can give out up to $30,000 in funds for recycling projects throughout the State of North Carolina if the grantee matches the grant at 20 percent. In the final report for each grantee they list the new diversion impact associated with their new project. In this case we are talking about the number of pounds or tons of recycling that are being pulled out of the waste (garbage) stream that would have existed there without the recycling bins. In cases where data was not available yet in the report, we will be reaching out to grantees to get this information from them. By logging these diversion rates we can see how much of an impact the Away From Home Recycling efforts are having in communities and try to get a sense of the average amount of recyclables certain locations get- parks or beach accesses for example.
With this data we can begin to develop metrics for recycling that enhances its legitimacy and can be used in further research and recycling efforts.
Thanks again for reading!