Needs Improvement

Waste stream diversion rate

Target

The target for recycling diversion is set at 25% for FY22. This is a stretch target.

Analysis

Through the pandemic months, curbside garbage tonnage increased significantly as more people were working from home. However, recycling tonnage was fairly stable. This factor appears to have been the main driver of the declining curbside diversion percentages in FY 20 and FY 21. Other factors that negatively impact recycling tonnage, but not necessarily to overall goal of waste diversion, are the light-weighting of certain recyclables and the drive to remove contamination from the recycling stream. There is some concensus in the industry that 'tonnage' is not the ideal way to measure diversion, however, without other standards to fall back on and the infrastructure to measure anything else, the industry still operates on tonnage. The Department does not have available staff resources to do education campaigns and in-person events on a regular basis, but SWM uses the website and the ReCollect features to educate about recycling.

Next Steps

With some new technology being deployed in some of the Department's fleet, it will soon be possible to get some approximate recycling set-out rates across the City. At that point, areas with low set-out rates can be targeted to get information to about recycling and attempt to improve those rates. Presumably if households are not setting out recycling, they are likely throwing recyclables away. Also, the City's routing vendor has camera options for the hopper that can identify recyclables and contamination. The City has not purchased these features, but future add-ons are possible and this data would certainly help to target education. A staff resource dedicated to education and community outreach would certainly help, but as of now, employees do those as able in addition to their normal responsibilities. It does not result in a sustained effort however. Finally, the Department is always exploring more options for diverting other items from the waste stream which could result in less garbage tonnage. 

Status Indicators: On Target On Target | Close to Target Close to Target | Needs Improvement Needs Improvement | Target Pending Target Pending