Measuring the success of recycling programs

Jess W. Everett, J. Jeffrey Peirce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Drawing from resource recovery unit operations research, a single-value-parameter reflecting both material recovery and purity considerations is suggested for calculating recycling program efficiency. Other measures of success are presented and data from a 1989 survey of over 1200 residential curbside recycling programs are used to assess the degree to which these measures are used. The ability of block leaders to estimate block participation rates is also explored. Two important measures of recycling program success which do not take into account purity considerations are presented, annualized per capita material recovery rate (MRR), and annualized per capita recycler material recovery rate (RMRR) as is the participation rate (PR). It is suggested that, in conjunction with the annualized per capita material availability rate (MAR), knowledge of PR and RMRR can be used to determine program recruitment strategy. If PR is low, program recruitment strategy should target non-recyclers. If RMRR is low compared to MAR, strategies should encourage participants to recycle a greater percentage of the available recyclable material. Survey results indicate that success measures MRR and PR are under-utilized and unstandardized. Block leaders appear to be able to estimate general levels of block participation, but not specific participation rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)355-370
Number of pages16
JournalResources, Conservation and Recycling
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1992
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Economics and Econometrics


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