Recycling Challenge

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As noted in our spring 2015 newsletter, the expected increase in recycling tonnage contemplated in the “SSR 500 Tons in 5 Challenge” did not materialize. The impact of introducing SSR in FY 2012/13 did produce an increase in recycling to 584 tons, up some 16% from the prior year. However, this trend did not continue, for in FY 2013/14 recycling was down 10% and in the next FY 2014/15 it dropped an additional 1%.

Besides the reasons mentioned in our earlier newsletter as to why this downward trend occurred, WEC in discussions with knowledgeable sources found that there were other possible explanations as to why shortfalls of this type take place. The most important of these was the overall downturn in the economy that occurred during the last two fiscal years cited above. The fact that individuals are tending to reuse and reduce their consumption of recyclable items had an impact. Also noted were the fact that we are dealing with a lesser amount of printed materials (impact of high internet usage), smaller newspaper and magazine design, and more “lightweighting” of containers, such as changing from glass to plastic or other lighter recyclable materials. In certain areas it appears education on recycling and resident participation in the program were also noted as possible causes for a downtrend of this type. In Washington, WEC has expended considerable time and effort to educate its residents on SSR regulations. It also developed the in-yard recycling pick-up (besides the normal curbside pick-up), in an attempt to deal with the needs of weekenders and others who do not wish their bins left curbside.

New SSR Challenge
In light of the downward trend cited above in recycling, WEC has reduced the Recycling Challenge put in place fall of 2013 that called for an increase of SSR for a total of 500 tons in 5 years. The new challenge being instituted this fall is more modest in that it only calls for 200 tons over a five-year period. WEC will provide strong support by way of continuing publicity regarding the new challenge to keep Washington residents ever mindful of the need to increase recycling, whenever possible.