As a child I grew up with an unconditional understanding that I was to recycle whenever possible. My parents always recycled their glass, cans, and plastics without fail and that habit was passed down to me without even realizing it. That is why I was shocked when I discovered today that only 18.1% of people in the Minneapolis area actually recycle. This seems remarkable that so many people just don’t when there are so many facilities at our disposal.
One thing that the Minneapolis recycling company is doing to increase the number of people recycling is to change the dual-sort recycling system to a single sort recycling system. This basically means that all we have to do to recycle is dump all of our recyclables into a single bin without sorting them at all.
I was originally against this idea because to me it makes sense that people should take care of their own waste to a certain extent rather then having workers sort all of our waste in what I would imagine at a very time consuming process. But now that I have seen the current statistic for people who are willing to do this I have reconsidered.
One thing that was noted in some sustainable behavior research was that it basically said that people will only be sustainable as long as the barriers don’t exceed the benefits, meaning that everyone has a limit of energy that they are willing to put up in order to be sustainable. Even I on occasion, if there are no recycling bins around will choose to simply throw a bottle away rather than carry it around with me. I have realized that that is usually my limit to how much extra effort I am willing to put into recycling and now understand that many people’s thresholds are much smaller.
This is exactly why Minneapolis should continue with their plan for single sort recycling as soon as they can. By simply disposing of the need to sort recyclables surveys are expecting to go from 18.1% of the population recycling to 32% based off of case studies from Ann Arbor and Portland.
Pros and Cons
Sustainable Behavior Studies (Book)
Mckenzie-Mohr, Doug. Fostering Sustainable Behavior.