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Multi-Family Units

Analysis of Multi-Family Recycling Programs

This investigation for the Office of Solid Waste Management (Metro) and the Bureau of Environmental Services (City of Portland) was designed to determine the reactions of tenants to a newly installed recycling collection system. In this study, 230 residents of buildings where recycling collection systems had been installed were personally administered a 50 item questionnaire. In depth interviews were also conducted with the tenants, managers and haulers at 20 representative sites. Results indicated that satisfaction with the program and overall participation was high. The level of tenant participation was largely governed by two system support variables: management support and "user-friendliness" of the recycling system.

Diversion of Recyclable Materials by Residents of Multi-Family Buildings

Two studies of the solid waste diversion potential of multi-family recycling programs are described. Study #1 investigated the maximum amount of recyclable material that subjects could divert, when they were encouraged to recycle as much as possible. Study #2 explored the amount of diversion under normal recycling conditions. The results of both studies revealed that a substantial amount of solid waste is currently being diverted by residents of multi-family buildings. At the same time, Study #1 indicated that considerably more diversion is possible under favorable motivating conditions. The implications of these findings for future research of the diversion potential of multi-family recycling programs was discussed.

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Single-Family Households

The Comparative Effectiveness of Reward and Commitment Approaches in Motivating Community Recycling

Two experiments explored the effects of commitment and incentive techniques in promoting newspaper recycling. Homeowners were asked to make a commitment (signed or unsigned) to recycle. Others received tokens exchangeable for back-up reinforcers of goods and services each time they recycled. A combined commitment plus token reinforcer group and an untreated control group were also included. Newspaper recycling was uniformly greater in both commitment groups than the token group. These findings indicated that commitment holds considerable promise in motivating individuals to recycle and that it may be able to overcome some of the limitations often encountered by incentive based programs.

Comparing Recyclers and Nonrecyclers in Portland: Implications for Increasing Participation in the Curbside Program.

While Portland leads the nation in the amount of household waste that is recycled each year, there are several areas of the City where the rate of participation in the curbside recycling program has been consistently low. This study was designed to investigate the differences between the Recycling and Nonrecycling households in these areas. It was hoped the findings would provide insights on how to more effectively promote recycling among the relatively large number of nonparticipating households.

Recycling Report (PDF file)

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Group Settings

The Effects of Group Commitment Techniques in Promoting Recycling

Two experiments evaluated the effect of commitment on paper recycling. In the first experiment individuals in a retirement home were asked to sign a group commitment pledge to recycle paper. They recycled 47% more paper than they had during the previous baseline period and continued to recycle at this level during the follow-up period. In the second experiment the relative effectiveness of group commitment, individual commitment and token reinforcers were compared in a college dormitory. The students in all three experimental conditions recycled from three to five times more paper than the control group. However, during the follow-up period, when the treatments were withdrawn, only the individually committed subjects continued to recycle more paper than the controls.

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