What Will it Take to Achieve 100% Recycling for Organic Waste?

The United States is progressing in recycling organic waste, but it still has a long way to go. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans recycled or composted 34.7% of their municipal solid waste in 2017. Of that, 14.3% was composed of food scraps, and yard trimmings, meaning only about half of organic waste generated by households is recycled or composted. The EPA also found that 22 states increased their rate of organic material recovery between 2010 and 2017.

But this still leaves many areas where little or no recycling of organic materials takes place. For example, less than 5% of residents in rural counties participated in organized collection programs for organics in 2015 – a number significantly lower than those in more populated counties.

This indicates that many rural areas need greater access to organic waste collection services. To achieve 100% recycling of organic waste, improvements must be made in urban and rural areas to ensure everyone has access to these services.

What’s Stopping us?

What's Stopping us?
Source: keepbritaintidy.org

There are several reasons why the United States still needs to achieve 100% organic recycling. One major barrier is consumers’ need for more awareness or understanding about what materials can be recycled and how to do it properly. Many people assume that disposing of food waste in the trash is the only option when it should be composted or recycled instead.

Additionally, many municipalities need access to effective collection services for organic waste because they do not have a comprehensive program or because their current program fails to reach all residents. This may be due to insufficient equipment, inadequate funding, or cultural attitudes toward environmental conservation.

Furthermore, transportation infrastructure can also present a challenge for cities and towns looking to expand their organic waste programs – without enough trucks to collect the waste; any program would be difficult to succeed.

Finally, the cost of organic waste recycling is often an obstacle. Collecting and processing organic material can be expensive, and some municipalities may need more funds or resources to implement such a program. Additionally, participation rates would only be high with financial incentives for consumers to recycle food waste.

Overall, it is clear that achieving 100% organic waste recycling in the United States requires overcoming numerous challenges. To do this, public education about what materials can be recycled and how they must be improved; access to collection services must be expanded; transportation infrastructure needs to become more efficient; and economic incentives should be provided to encourage participation. Once these changes are made, we can work towards a future where all organic waste is properly recycled and composted.

Edging Closer through the Local Level:

Although the federal government has an important role to play in achieving 100% organic waste recycling, there are also many things that individuals can do at a local level to help.

The first step is for residents to become educated about what organic materials can and cannot be recycled. Many don’t know that food scraps, yard trimmings, and agricultural residues are recyclable. Learning this information will help ensure that items end up in the compost or recycling bin instead of the trash. It’s also important to understand what type of bins should be used for different materials; some cities may have multiple containers for composting and recycling. Educating oneself on these topics will make it easier to participate in a program if one is available.

In addition to educating yourself, it’s important to get involved in implementing a program in your community. Find out if your municipality has an organic waste recycling program, and if not, find out how you can help start one. Contact your local representatives and let them know you support efforts to reduce waste and recycle organics. If there’s already a program in place, inquire about how you can participate or volunteer your time to help with collection or education initiatives.

Alongside this, seek out businesses in your area already involved in organic recycling. Ask them for tips and advice on beginning a successful program, and find out their challenges. This information can be extremely valuable if you start an initiative in your community.

Finally, consider speaking to other community members about starting a local organic waste recycling program. Spread awareness by discussing the environmental benefits of reducing landfill waste with friends, family, or neighbors. Consider hosting events such as composting workshops or educational seminars, which can help inform people about how they can contribute to their community’s waste reduction efforts.

Organic waste recycling is an incredibly important issue that requires everyone’s participation. By educating yourself and others, engaging with local businesses, and getting involved in implementing a program in your community, you can play an important role in edging us closer to 100% organic waste recycling.

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