Recycling not catching on in some U.S. towns

- Renewable Energy - Sep 30, 2013

By John McMalcolm

The United States is one of the countries with the highest recycling rates, with most of its cities recycling about one third of their waste.

However, there are still a number of cities that are seriously lagging behind in their recycling efforts. These cities are experiencing significant waste problems because they have failed to provide the necessary facilities, incentives or education to encourage their residents to adopt the recycling habit.

Here is a list of U.S. cities that are struggling with recycling.

Oklahoma City

Oklahoma City is only recycling about three percent of its waste, making it the worst recycling city in the country. One of the main reasons why its residents are not actively recycling is because it charges a monthly fee for curbside pickup.

In an endeavor to solve its recycling problems, the city has recently provided residents in a suburban area with larger recycling bins for curbside pickup and installed four self-compacting recycling stations in the downtown area. It has realized that making recycling more convenient for its residents is an important step towards improving its recycling situation.


With a recycling rate of only 3.7 percent, the capital city of Indiana certainly needs to step up its recycling efforts.

It tried to encourage its residents to recycle by organizing the Recycle-Fest Music Festival this year. However, it may have more success if it starts expanding its curbside pickup service, which is currently available to only 12 percent of its residents.


Philadelphia is making substantial efforts to promote recycling, but its recycling rate is still a dismal 8.7 percent.

It has expanded its recycling rewards program after achieving a 90-percent success rate in one neighborhood. With an effective curbside pickup system already in place, the city is now asking its residents to practice recycling when they are not at home.


Houston is facing waste management problems because it is unable to provide adequate curbside recycling service. Many of its residents are still on the waiting list for the recycling bins required to avail of the service. With its inefficient recycling program, it is only recycling 9.4 percent of its waste.

Nonetheless, the largest city in Texas is trying to develop an innovative recycling facility that is able to separate usable materials from waste. It has also recently expanded its curbside recycling service to 35,000 more households.

New York City

The nation's most populous city is having a gigantic garbage problem, because it is only able to recycle 15 percent of its residential waste. The problem arises from the lack of recycling facilities, incentives to recycle and curbside or domestic composting services.

In an attempt to boost its recycling rate, the city has launched the "Recycle Everything" campaign to encourage its residents to practice recycling.

City authorities and residents need to cooperate in order to achieve recycling success. By taking the right measures, cities will be able to improve their recycling rates significantly in the near future, saving on energy costs over time.

About the Author: John McMalcolm is a freelance writer who writes on a wide range of subjects, from recycling to website issues such as reviews

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