Increase Your Community Recycling Rate

Simple Ideas for Increasing Your Community's Recycling Rate

Improving your recycling rate will increase how much your community receives through the Residential Recycling Incentive (RRI) Program and can decrease the amount your community spends on waste disposal. Even with the smallest of budgets, you have the ability to increase your community's recycling rate. Here are a few simple ideas from free to a potential financial investment:

1. Make the Most of Your Existing Website

Websites offer an inexpensive opportunity to promote your recycling program and increase participation. Whether you already have a recycling page or are thinking about adding recycling information to your website, consider the following tips:

  • Use simple, direct language-most readers will only scan your website
  • Include a list of acceptable materials-make sure residents know what items to recycle
  • Explain clearly how to get a recycling bin or recycling cart and list where any recycling drop-offs are located
  • No extra cost? Let them know! Residents are more likely to recycle if they do not have to pay an extra fee.
  • Let residents know how to sign up for garbage; does your community contract for garbage and recycling? If not, explain what subscription service means.
  • Who would a resident call if their recycling or trash is not picked up? What if they have a large item to set out?
  • Make the information is easy to find on your site. When organizing the page think, "if one of my residents was on the home page, would he/she know where to click for recycling information?" If possible, include a recycling link directly from your home page.

2. Take Advantage of Community Newsletters

No other publication reaches your residents so specifically. All articles should include information on how to get a recycling bin or cart. You can also direct residents to sign up for one of our newsletters. 

3. Send New Homeowner Packets

There is no better way to welcome new residents to the neighborhood than with a welcome packet. Besides explaining how to recycle and receive trash service in the community, you can familiarize the new resident with other important community services and contact information. Be sure to include a list of what is recyclable and how to start recycling. Advertise community events and promote what makes your community unique. You can even personalize the packet with a special note from the mayor or trustees welcoming the resident.

4. Set a Recycling Goal

A national survey of 264 communities found that those who set a recycling goal were more successful. Why? Goals give residents a target to strive for.

If you need help choosing a goal, the Residential Recycling Incentive Program (RRI Program) has tiers of recycling rates already built into the funding structure. Setting your goal to move up into the next tier will increase the amount of RRI funds your community receives. View a list of Hamilton County community recycling rates.

Recycling Rate
Approximate RRI Dollars Per Ton
Less Than 30%$34
25% to 29.99%
20% to 24.99%
15% to 19.99%
10% to 14.99%
5% to 9.99%
0% to 4.99%

Make sure your initial goal is attainable. If your recycling rate is 6% and has been 6% for the last 10 years, instead of shooting immediately for 10% consider setting the goal initially at 8%. With the percentage goal also set a timeline to reach the goal. For example, our community goal is to reach an 8% recycling rate by January 2019.

Make your goal public by adding it to your website and newsletter and announcing the goal at a council or trustee meeting. Let residents know the current rate, the goal rate, and when you hope to achieve the goal. Finally, provide feedback on the progress toward achieving the goal. The more often you provide feedback, the more effective your message is.

5. Focus on Schools

Considering how we manage our resources today will affect our children's future, it makes perfect sense to include children in recycling efforts. The District offers many free and subsidized programs to help schools start recycling and reducing waste. Often kids will bring home the recycling message and behavior they learn in school. Visit the School Resources page or call 513-946-7736 for more information. Encourage schools in your community to take advantage of these free and subsidized resources.

The District has designed many direct mail pieces in the past and would be glad to offer our assistance. Email Gage Bradford or call 513-946-7746 to learn more about what the District can provide.

6. Add Community Drop-Off Locations

Community recycling drop-offs are inexpensive, easy to use, and have proven to increase recycling rates. Recycling drop-offs make a valuable service available to residents requiring little or no staff time.

Centrally locate the drop-off in an area well-known to residents. Near the municipal building, in a park, or on community property is ideal. If community property is unavailable, consider requesting a corner of a parking lot from a local business. Once the drop-off is in place, remember to monitor the location and be prepared to expand if necessary. Visit the Recycling Drop-Off Sites page to see a list of communities with recycling drop-offs.

7. Implement a Volume Based Waste Collection System

Volume-based waste collection or Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT) gives residents a financial incentive to reduce the amount of waste their household creates. The premise is simple. Just like any other utility, such as natural gas or water, residents pay for waste collection based on the volume of waste they place at the curb. So a household that only generates one bag of trash a week would pay less than the household that creates four bags per week.

Communities can implement volume-based waste collection systems in multiple ways. Residents can receive a base level of trash service at no charge and then have to pay for anything above that amount. For example, City of Madeira residents receive a 35-gallon trash cart and have to pay $0.75 for every additional bag that cannot fit in the cart. Some communities choose a bag system, where residents pay a set amount for each bag they set out at the curb, such as in the Village of Mariemont.

Volume-based waste collection systems have been proven to reduce waste. If you are interested in implementing this type of program, contact the District at 513-946-7746 or email Gage Bradford, for help adding this language to your Request for Bids.