Chapter 5: Household preferences for alternative trash and recycling services in small towns: is single stream the future of rural recycling?
Over the past 30 years community recycling programs have expanded in terms of the number of communities and households served, and the quantity and type of materials recycled. An estimated 73 percent of cities and towns in the United States provide access to some form of community recycling program. As of 2010, 87 percent of the U.S. population had access to either a curbside collection program or community drop-off recycling program (American Forest and Paper Association 2010). Coinciding with the expansion and development of community recycling programs, there has been a rapid increase in the national recycling rate, as shown in Figure 5.1. Note that while the percentage of total materials diverted from the waste stream has increased over the past 20 years from 16 percent in 1990 to 29 percent in 2000 to 34 percent in 2010 (USEPA 2011), the rate of increase has leveled off during the past decade from a nearly 80 percent increase from 1990 to 2000 to a 17 percent increase from 2000 to 2010. Recycling has become big business. Within the United States the recycling industry employed 1 million workers, generated $236 billion in revenues, and accounted for 2 percent of U.S. Gross Domestic Product in 2007 (Prouty 2008). In response to the declining rate of increase in recycling, many states and municipalities are establishing new higher goals for recycling rates.
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