How to Start a Recycling Program in Your Town

7 Tips to Get Your City Started  

Every year, Americans throw away 22 million tons of perfectly recyclable goods and materials. According to, this represents an economic loss of approximately $1.8 billion as well as a burden on the climate of about 50 million tons of greenhouse gases.

But according to the 2016 annual report by that organization, only 50% of U.S. households have a curbside recycling option.

And for households that do have access to a recycling program, typically only half of the items that could be recycled, are recycled. The rest is thrown away. Clearly there is more work to be done to ensure that every citizen has access to and takes full advantage of a community recycling program.

Recycling: Good for you, good for the economy, good for the planet

No matter where you live, recycling just makes sense.

  • Man holding garbage bag - need to recycleRecycling helps save valuable landfill space. On average, Americans each throw away 7.5 pounds of trash a day. This solid waste goes mostly to landfills, where it’s compacted and buried. As our waste stream grows, so do the pressures on landfills, resources and the environment.
  • Recycling helps preserve natural resources and saves energy. For example, producing plastic from existing plastic as opposed to manufacturing it from raw materials such as oil and gas saves not only the raw materials, but also approximately 88% of the energy that would otherwise be used. And manufacturing a product with recycled aluminum cans uses 95% less energy than creating the same amount of aluminum from bauxite.
  • Recycling benefits the environment. As energy and natural resources are conserved, pollution generated from the use of raw materials in manufacturing is also reduced.
  • Recycling creates jobs. In California for example, for every job in recycling collection, eight more workers are needed to manufacture recovered material into new products.
  • asdfRecycling helps us become better citizens. As people join together to help start a recycling program, they not only work toward cleaner, happier towns and cities, but they also form lasting friendships with neighbors and other like-minded community members. And when their children are included, great habits are formed at an early age. Good news for everyone!

But what if my town doesn’t offer recycling?

If you live in an area that doesn’t yet offer a recycling program, check out these tips for getting your city to recycle based on information found at

  • Ask your city officials if they have looked into offering a recycling program before. Find out what their concerns are.
  • Talk to others in your city to gauge interest in recycling. Set up a free survey at or another site and share it on social media to determine interest level.
  • Consider starting a recycling coalition. Recycling coalitions have played big roles in getting recycling programs started.
  • Talk to similar-sized towns nearby that currently have recycling programs. Find out how they got started and ask for tips.
  • If your city has a contract with a trash collection company, ask the service provider if they also offer a recycling program.
  • Ask to speak about recycling at a city council meeting. Share your desire to have a recycling program in your town.
  • Most importantly, don’t give up and get others involved!

Earth911 also offers some good advice in its 6 steps to starting a community recycling program. And to learn about existing resources available in your state, check out’s Big List of Recycling Organizations Helping America Go Green.

Need helping knowing what’s recyclable? We love Busch System’s ultimate “Can I recycle that?” list.


Labels on steel cans do not have to be removed before recycling since they are burned off during the melting process.

Question Mark

Wondering which cities are world leaders in recycling? Check out this list from

comment_2Does your community provide recycling services? If so, do you participate? Why or why not? Please leave us a comment below!


Do you recycle regularly?

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