Meeting state waste stream reduction mandates through recycling: examining residential waste disposal behavior in rural Virginia

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Virginia Tech

Solid waste management has become an increasingly costly issue for localities throughout Virginia. The Commonwealth has established a state-mandated recycling rate of 25 percent to be achieved by July 31, 1995. The mandate, however, may not adequately consider the diversity of individual localities throughout the state. Some localities may have financial, technical, or physical difficulty in complying with the mandate. Rural localities in particular may have trouble complying with mandated rates of recycling, due to the high costs and physical difficulty of collecting, separating, transporting, and marketing recyclable waste products.

The focus of local recycling efforts has typically been on minimizing recycling program costs. Little attention has been given to the household costs associated with various recycling tasks or programs, and how implicit household costs associated with recycling might affect residential participation levels. Local governments often set recycling goals or implement programs with little insight into the household costs of recycling. The household’s perception of the time, effort, inconvenience, and mess involved with recycling may influence participation levels, recovery rates, and the overall effectiveness of a program.

This study examines and discusses the factors that influence the recycling behavior of rural residents. It also provides an indication as to the household perception of the implicit costs associated with various recycling tasks. Three separate recycling programs are examined to determine if household recycling behavior differs between counties, depending on the type of waste disposal and recycling system used in the county.