The Top Recycling Programs In The U.S. for 2017

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, Americans produce over 200 million tons of trash annually. Out of this, 75% is recyclable yet we only recycle, through recycling programs, about 30% of it.

While overall it might seem like we’re losing the fight against responsible recycling, the top recycling programs in the U.S. for 2017 are here to give us hope that we’re on the right track.

We looked at recycling programs that compost or recycle more than 65% of their trash while diverting from landfills.

Recycling programs on the Pacific Coast tend to be doing much better than programs elsewhere in the country. Particularly programs in California, which may be explained by their tough waste diversion quotas contained in their Solid Waste Law, 1985-1989 and 2011 Public Resources Code.

1. San Francisco Zero Waste Scheme

In 2002, San Francisco decided to adopt the Zero Waste Scheme. This is a waste management program designed to prevent waste, reduce consumption, and increase recycling and composting. The scheme sets to reduce to zero the amount of waste that goes to landfills and waste incinerators.

The program began by targeting organic waste produced by hotels and restaurants. The program next targeted waste debris produced by the construction industry. The most famous step was the decision to ban retailers from providing free plastic bags and shoppers had to reuse their bags or purchase new ones. The San Francisco Zero Waste Scheme sets out comprehensive recycling options for business premises.

2. Pepperdine University Recycling Program

The Co-Ed private research university, Pepperdine University, has one of the best waste management programs of any US community. With only about 22% of their waste making it to landfills and the other 78% being recycled, no other recycling program can claim such high success rates.

The university has on-campus collection points where e-waste can be disposed of. The IT Tech Central also acts as a donation point for old computers, cell phones, printers, and other electronic waste. All their green waste is composted and reused as fertilizer.

3. Boston, Massachusetts, Recycling Programs

Boston is known as the eco-friendliest city in the US. Not only does it have the most number of people who prefer to walk to work, the city has a comprehensive renewable compost plan. The compost plan uses wildlife and plants to turn tons of leaves into energy and fertilizers. Apart from the compost plan, the city has a comprehensive recycling plan to promote recycling of computers, cell phones, paper, cans, and bottles. Businesses are required to put in place working waste management business recycling programs.

4. New York Curbside Recycling Program

The New York City department of sanitation has arguably one of the most comprehensive and convenient curbside recycling programs of all cities in the US. Every resident has access to a list of all recyclable materials and detailed information through their Zero Waste website. The department provides timely weekly pickups and households and businesses are required to recycle. Additionally, most businesses have adopted corporate recycling programs.

5. Harvard University “SingleStream” Program

Harvard university is an academic giant and champion of recycling. It was one of the first waste management programs to move from separating trash items to adopting the “SingleStream” recycling method.

The university has maintained the highest diversion rate among all Ivy League schools with a 52% diversion rate and 8,400 tons of trash recycled. The university composts all organic waste and has kept more than 100 tons of food waste away from landfills since 2011. The school has also saved more than 25,000 gallons of water by harvesting rain water.

6. Best Buy Co, Inc.

Most of the retail giants have recycling programs, and Best Buy by far leads the companies with best recycling programs. The retail giant has easy access points where you can drop off unwanted electronics regardless of where they were purchased. All items are recycled free of charge and one can opt for the Best Buy trade-in program where customers receive store credits depending on the recycled item’s trade-in value.

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Comments (4)

  1. Avatar for Felix Abur Charlotte Nielson says:

    How do you get the message out that recycling is a “must”.. Most people I know are not aware of the need to change habits to keep our planet livable.

    1. Avatar for Felix Abur Jason Townsend says:

      Hi Charlotte. It all starts with us. Talk to people, and don’t be afraid to have an opinion that matters. We can all inspire change locally, which will spread globally. Have faith, and keep living your high standards.

  2. Avatar for Felix Abur Charlotte Nielson says:

    How do you make people more aware about the importance of recycling?Specifically in a neighborhood……

    1. Avatar for Felix Abur Jason Townsend says:

      Try organizing an event with your neighbors. A movie night, perhaps? There are some wonderful documentaries out there on reducing waste. A wonderful series just aired in Australia titled: “War on Waste”. While not focused singularly on the U.S., it is highly relevant for ALL!

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