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Cheshire County Recycling

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This thesis aims to test the viability of a countywide recycling program in Cheshire County, New Hampshire. Many experts in the field of recycling believe that the consolidation of recycling centers ...

This thesis aims to test the viability of a countywide recycling program in Cheshire County, New Hampshire. Many experts in the field of recycling believe that the consolidation of recycling centers can lower per capita costs and increase the profitability of recycling. Larger, more mechanized facilities such as the Keene Recycling Center can process large quantities of recyclables in a short amount of time. It makes economic sense for small recycling centers to shut down and join larger nearby facilities.

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Cheshire County Recycling Cheshire County Recycling Document Transcript

  • KEENE STATE COLLEGE DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY Live Green or Die: Recycling in Cheshire County, New Hampshire LAUREN EVANS AUREN VANS JARED GASCO ARED ASCO LAURA JALETTE AURA ALETTE CANDRA MERREIIGHN ANDRA ERRE GHN December 2008 FACULTY SPONSOR: DR. CHRISTOPHER CUSACK
  • ii Acknowledgements: Special thanks to the following people: Duncan Watson and Michael Hartness from the City of Keene Recycling Center for participating in an interview and providing a surplus of valuable information regarding recycling trends in Keene; Mary Jensen from Recycling on Campus at Keene State (R.O.C.K.S) for taking the time to participate in an interview and informing the group of how the college goes about recycling; the entire staff and volunteers of Walpole Recycling Center for all of their kindness, and willingness to help, Dr. A. L. Rydant and Mr. Ted Miller of the Keene State College Geography Department for your contributions; all the individuals who attended the Solid Waste Managers’ Meeting on October 1, 2008 in Troy, New Hampshire; Brian Lacasse for his help with SPSS, ArcGIS and for always being in the lab when we needed him; and all who participated in the surveys. We would like to extend a very special thank you to Dr. Christopher Cusack for his involvement, hard work, and guidance and always reminding us to enjoy ourselves and have fun; as well as all of the members of this group, who dedicated endless amounts of time and energy to create an eye-opening and educational resource.
  • iii Abstract: This thesis aims to test the viability of a countywide recycling program in Cheshire County, New Hampshire. Many experts in the field of recycling believe that the consolidation of recycling centers can lower per capita costs and increase the profitability of recycling. Larger, more mechanized facilities such as the Keene Recycling Center can process large quantities of recyclables in a short amount of time. It makes economic sense for small recycling centers to shut down and join larger nearby facilities. However, this consolidation process is difficult to initiate because of several obstacles. Two obstacles relate to social and convenience factors. Whether they acknowledge it or not, many recyclers enjoy the social component of recycling. They enjoy spreading and hearing local news and events. Many recyclers are also not willing to travel very far to their recycling centers. In order to test whether factors such as these significantly curtail the consolidation process, secondary and primary data was collected and analyzed. Secondary data was primarily collected from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NH DES) and the New Hampshire Economic and Labor Market Information Bureau (NH ELMB). Primary data was collected from two surveys: a general public survey and a recycling expert survey (experts were defined as individuals who work in the recycling industry or have a considerably higher than average understanding of the recycling process). Public and expert opinions were necessary for an enhanced perspective on recycling. Differences in public and expert opinion were suspected to reveal interesting and valuable conclusions.
  • iv After primary and secondary data was collected, three null hypotheses were established. The first null hypothesis states there is not a significant correlation between educational attainment and the percent of municipal solid waste (MSW) recycled. The second null hypothesis states there is not a significant correlation between median age and the percent of MSW recycled. Lastly, the third null hypothesis states that there is no significant difference in the enjoyment of the social component of recycling between Keene and Walpole. Two correlation tests and one two sample difference test was conducted in SPSS to test these null hypotheses. All of the tests revealed no significance, and thus all three null hypotheses were not rejected. Both educational attainment and age do not significantly correlate to increased recycling percentages. Furthermore, there is no significant difference in the enjoyment of the social component of recycling between Keene and Walpole.
  • v TABLE OF CONTENTS LIST OF FIGURES v LIST OF TABLES vi CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION 1 Introduction 1 History of Recycling in the United States 2 Present Recycling Programs in the United States 6 CHAPTER 2: RECYCLING AT THE COUNTY LEVEL IN THE UNITED STATES 9 Setting the Stage: Cheshire County, New Hampshire 11 Recycling in Cheshire County 13 CHAPTER 3: GENERAL PUBLIC SURVEY METHODOLOGY AND RESULTS 18 Methodology 18 Results 21 CHAPTER 4: EXPERT SURVEY METHODOLOGY AND RESULTS 25 METHODOLOGY 25 RESULTS 25 CHAPTER 5: STATISTICAL ANALYSIS 28 CHAPTER 6: LIMITATIONS AND CONCLUSIONS 36 LIMITATIONS 36 CONCLUSIONS 37 REFERENCES 39
  • vi List of Figures Figure 1 Timeline of Recycling in the United States. 5 Figure 2 Percent of Communities with PAYT in the United States 2006. 7 Figure 3 Relative Location of Cheshire County, New Hampshire. 11 Figure 4 Cheshire County Per Capita Income 1999. 12 Figure 5 Population of Cheshire County 2007. 13 Figure 6 Exact Locations of Recycling Centers in Cheshire County, 14 New Hampshire. Figure 7 Keene Recycling Center (KRC). 15 Figure 8 KRC Cardboard Drop-off. 15 Figure 9 Walpole Reuse Center. 15 Figure 10 Walpole Recycling Center. 15 Figure 11 Percent Recycled in Cheshire County. 17 Figure 12 Population for the City of Keene. 17 Figure 13 Administering Surveys at the Keene Recycling Center 18 Oct. 18, 2008. Figure 14 Administering Surveys at the Walpole Recycling Center 18 Oct. 18, 2008. Figure 15 Gender Distribution of Survey Participants. 19 Figure 16 Age Distribution of Survey Participants. 20 Figure 17 Percentage of Homeowners Among Survey Participants. 20 Figure 18 Perceived Effectiveness of PAYT, Curbside, and 26 Mandatory Recycling Programs Based on a Scale From 1 to 5. Figure 19 Importance of Consolidation, Mechanization, and 26 Socialization in Respect to Recycling Based on a Scale From 1 to 5. Figure 20 Maximum Distance (in miles) Keene and Walpole 34 Recyclers Are Willing to Travel to Recycle. Figure 21 Mean Time Spent (in minutes) at Keene and Walpole 35 Recycling Centers. Figure 22 Mean Amount of Years Recyclers Have Lived in Their Towns. 35 Figure 23 Most Recent Recycling Information Available, Cheshire County. 37
  • vii List of Tables Table 1 Descriptive Statistics of Secondary Data for Cheshire County 29 Municipalities with Recycling Centers. Table 2 Presence or Absence of Different Recycling Programs in 32 Cheshire County Municipalities with Recycling Centers.
  • 1 Chapter 1 Introduction Recycling has become a major part of American society in recent decades, but has always been a part of Earth’s natural cycle. The definition of recycling is “the series of activities by which discarded post consumer materials are collected, sorted, processed, converted into raw materials, and used in the production of new products” (EPA 2002c). The economic benefits of recycling are one of the many reasons that communities continue to recycle. Recycling consists of three stages: separating and collecting recyclable materials, manufacturing recycled-content products, and buying recycled-content products (EPA 2008). Buying and selling the products of recycling is one of the most important factors in recycling. Without this, recycling would be a dead-end process. A recycling program must have a strong relationship with companies that purchase and sell recycled goods. “Without a strong market for recycled materials, there is no incentive to collect recyclables and manufactured recycled-content products” (EPA 2008c). In 2002, the United States Recycling Economic Information Study was published by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The study was conducted to determine the economic benefits of recycling and to inform citizens of the United States (and companies involved in recycling) that their efforts were not in vain. This study explains the importance of recycling, and it also has a section on how to improve recycling efforts. From this study, it was shown that recycling collected for the federal government earned $200,000,000 and the processing of recycled materials earned $700,000,000 (EPA 2002c). The manufacturing of recycled materials
  • 2 makes the most money for any local or state government in the country. In other words, recycling makes money and it will continue to do so in the future. Recycling is a very important practice in the United States today because it helps promote sustainable community development. Sustainable development is often defined as forms of development that allow people to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Recycling is also important to study because natural resources in the United States continue to dwindle. Recycling is one of the easier and more effective ways to slow the depletion of natural resources. Unfortunately, not nearly enough municipal solid waste (MSW) in the United States is recycled. Only 32.5 percent of all MSW in the United States was recycled in 2006 (EPA 2007). Potentially, a much greater percent of MSW could be recycled. The importance of recycling needs to be fully realized in the United States in order for it to reach its maximum potential. History of Recycling in the United States The United States’ solid waste problems followed Europe’s in the seventeenth century at the time of the settlement of the colonies. Streets were used as dumping grounds for trash and other forms of waste. Disease was overtaking cities such as New York and Boston. It was not until the 1800’s that city officials across the country realized that efforts had to be made to keep cities clean for the population to become healthier. The changing values of hygiene and health contributed to the modern notions of waste management (Zimring 2005). Curbside recycling began in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1874. Cans of garbage were filled and taken away
  • 3 from residential neighborhoods on a weekly basis (see Figure 1 for timeline of recycling in the United States). In 1895, Colonel George E. Waring was appointed the Street-Cleaning Commissioner of New York City. Waring developed a system that required households to sort organic wastes, paper, ashes and street sweepings into different containers for pick-up. Waring also helped New York City profit from source separation by reselling recovered goods (California EPA 1997). The nation’s first aluminum can recycling plants were opened in Chicago, Illinois, and Cleveland, Ohio, in 1904 (California EPA 1997). Following this, in the 1920’s, land filling, by means of reclaiming wetlands with layers of garbage, ash, and dirt, was introduced and it became a popular disposal method, especially around cities (California EPA 1997). Also in the 1920’s the term “recycling” was first used regularly by the petroleum industry (Zimring 2005). Until World War II, it was not uncommon for the public to believe that scrap collecting was a “dirty” business. Americans did not realize that the new cars they purchased were being made out of their own scraps and those of their neighbors. It was not until the start of World War II that Americans saw how beneficial scrap collecting could be. Between the years 1939 and 1941 thousands of tons of materials were recycled to help support the troops during World War II (California EPA 1997). Scrap drives were also held by various organizations and communities including the Boy Scouts, public schools, and neighborhoods. Americans were no longer afraid to expose themselves and their children to scrap and waste (Zimring 2005). In 1965 the Solid Waste Disposal Act (SWDA) was passed by Congress. The SWDA was a legislation passed by President Lyndon Johnson and Congress to help the federal government
  • 4 take the first step to become involved in the nation’s solid waste management. The SWDA focused on researching “new methods of solid waste collection, storage, processing, disposal, and reduction of unsalvageable solid waste” (Melosi 2005, 201). Shortly after, in 1969, Seattle, Washington, created one of the first successful curbside recycling programs. Cities all over the country followed in Seattle’s footsteps. The state of Oregon, in 1972, was the first state to pass a bottle bill designed to increase the recycling rate across the state by giving citizens money in exchange for their cans and bottles. The states of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, and Vermont adopted similar programs between 1973 and 1987 (Zimring 2005). It was not until 1976 that the federal government passed the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. This bill was made to assist state and local governments with improvements in their solid waste management techniques. By the early 1980’s, there were about 140 communities in the United States that used a curbside recycling program, and by 1989, there were 10,000 recycling drop off centers in the country. In 1986, Rhode Island became the first state to pass a mandatory recycling law. The law required that aluminum and steel cans, glass, plastic bottles and newspaper must be separated into different bins from trash and recyclables (California EPA 1997). It was around this time that curbside recycling started to become popular around the country. By 1990, there were over 1,000 communities using a form of curbside recycling. Also during this time, cities began to privatize their solid waste management systems.
  • 5
  • 6 Present Recycling Programs in the United States Presently there are three different types of curbside recycling programs. The first is single-stream recycling. This involves households commingling recyclable materials into one bin and not separating it. Haulers prefer single-stream recycling because it involves less trucks and pick-ups. Questions still remain about the various materials contaminated with this program; however there is evidence of increases in the quantity of household recyclables (Earth911 2008). The second program is dual-stream recycling. This is the most popular form of curbside recycling. Containers go into one bin and then papers, such as newspapers, magazines, and direct mail, go into a separate bin. Both bins are then set out on the curb for pick-up (Earth911 2008). Pay-as-you throw (PAYT) is a third recycling program included in the curbside recycling program category, and it is one of the most effective programs. Residents are charged for collection of their Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) based on the amount that they throw away. Households pay a variable rate depending on how much MSW they produce. They are charged by the weight of their trash, or they pay a fee for each bag or bin that they generate (EPA 2008b). Figure 2 shows the percent of PAYT communities in the United States in 2006. New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Washington, and Oregon have the highest percentages of PAYT communities in the United States. Washington, Minnesota, and Oregon have 100 percent PAYT in all communities (EPA 2008a). Many of the lowest percentages occur in the central plains and southern states, as well as Alaska and Hawaii. Mississippi, Hawaii and the District of Columbia have no PAYT communities at all resulting in a negligible percent for those areas. As
  • 7 apparent from Figure 2, recycling in the form of PAYT takes place all around the United States. Some states have higher percentages than others, but most are making a positive impact on recycling. Figure 2 Percent of Communities with PAYT in the United States 2006. There are several different types of PAYT systems. ‘Variable or subscribed can’ is a system in which households sign up for a specific number of containers that goes towards their usual garbage service and if the number of containers is higher the household gets a bill. The ‘bag program’ system is one in which households purchase special bags imprinted with a particular city or hauler logo for a price. Individuals may purchase these bags through community centers or grocery stores. The next program is called ‘tag or sticker program’ and is
  • 8 very similar to the bag program. In place of a bag, individuals place a sticker or tag on the waste they want to be collected and these are also purchased for a price. The ‘hybrid system’ is a combination of the current collection system and an incentive based program used to limit the amount of waste an individual produces. This system works well because there is no change in billing systems, containers, or collection systems. It provides wasteful individuals with an incentive to reduce. ‘Weight-Based Systems’ or ‘Garbage by the Pound’ (GBTP) uses truck scales to weigh garbage containers and charges costumers based on the pounds of waste they have produced. A radio frequency (RF) tag is affixed to the garbage container to identify households so that they can be billed directly based on the weight of their garbage. Many communities offer PAYT as an extra option along with the standard system of waste collection (Skumatz and Freeman 2006).
  • 9 CHAPTER 2: Recycling at the County Level in the United States Recycling has become a part of American culture, and counties across the nation are trying to develop programs that benefit communities both environmentally and economically. Many communities in the United States have come together to form countywide recycling programs. These programs are especially beneficial for rural and small communities because they can share the economic responsibilities of the program together. Countywide recycling programs are a form of regionalization. Regionalization is “the process whereby neighboring cities, towns and counties pool resources to address local challenges” (EPA 1994). Rural and small communities often have a lower tax base, which makes financing solid waste management difficult. The solution is to develop a countywide program that will improve the area’s recycling rates and also increase economic profits. To start planning a countywide recycling program, community leaders must first study the proposed countywide project. Plans must be made for landfills and recycling centers that are easily reachable by citizens in all of the county’s municipalities. Locations of the recycling centers and municipal solid waste (MSW) facilities are a very important factor in the process. Next, community leaders must inform residents that a countywide program is beneficial. Educational meetings should be planned for the community where residents have the opportunity to ask any questions they might have. The process of the project would then be explained. More specifically, how the facility would continue to operate after its inception (EPA 1994). Before the project is accepted by the community, funding must be considered. Many foundations may provide funding for the countywide program, but funding could also come
  • 10 from the community, and plans would have to be made to be sure that funding would continue through the years. After that, it is up to the community to stay involved in the program to ensure that it is successful. Cheshire County could benefit from a variety of waste management programs. As researched in the Cheshire County, New Hampshire Municipal Solid Waste Study, two different programs could increase Cheshire County’s recycling participation. One of the plans involves a coordinated effort between public and private sectors. Citizen participation is necessary for a successful waste management plan therefore, “…all stake holders [should be] represented in the decision-making process via a planning committee” (Monahan 2004, 10). Planning committees help make citizens more interested in recycling. A second plan that could benefit Cheshire County is a waste-to-energy (WTE) plant, as seen in Pinellas County, Florida (Monahan 2004, 11). WTE plants consist of two systems: thermal and non-thermal. The thermal system includes mass burn, gasification, pyrolysis, and plasma arc, while the non-thermal system includes anaerobic digestion and hydrolysis (Weitz 2008, 17). Cheshire County’s WTE facility would not be large scale like Pinellas County’s, but it would still be profitable enough to get more citizens involved in recycling. Depending on its size, a WTE facility in Cheshire County would also provide energy for most, if not all, of the county.
  • 11 Setting the Stage: Cheshire County, New Hampshire Prior to providing analysis of recycling in Cheshire County, the case study region must first be discussed. Cheshire County is located in the southwest corner of New Hampshire and includes 23 towns (Figure 3). In 2000, 26.6 percent of Cheshire County’s population 25 years of age and older had a Bachelor’s degree or higher (US Census Bureau 2008). Figure 3 Relative Location of Cheshire County, New Hampshire. Figure 4 represents Cheshire County’s per capita income for the year 1999. The town of Nelson has a per capita income of $31,624 for 1999 (US Census Bureau 2008). Nelson does not have its own recycling center, but residents can take their recyclables to Keene, Harrisville or Stoddard. It is interesting to note that the town with the highest per capita income does not have a recycling center, while Troy, Winchester, and Hinsdale, the three towns with the lowest
  • 12 per capita income, do have recycling centers. The 2007 population of Cheshire County was 77,725 (US Census Bureau 2008). Figure 5 displays the population of Cheshire County for the year 2007. The town of Nelson, having the highest per capita income, is one of the municipalities with a small population. The City of Keene has the highest population in the county with 22,893 residents. The county is home to three colleges and universities: Antioch University New England, Franklin Pierce University, and Keene State College. These three institutions are very helpful economically to Cheshire County and play a substantial role in recycling within the county. Keene State College contributes to this large population due to its enrollment of 5,282 students and provision of numerous jobs for residents of Keene and the surrounding municipalities. Furthermore, many students live in the city year-round. The majority of the municipalities with lower populations are located in the northeastern corner of the county with the exception of Richmond which is located in southern Cheshire County. Figure 4 Cheshire County Per Capita Income 1999.
  • 13 Figure 5 Population of Cheshire County 2007. Recycling in Cheshire County The Northeast Resource Recovery Association (NRRA) is a non-profit organization that gives communities, like Cheshire County, the opportunity to further their education on recycling and also to make a market for their recycled goods. The NRRA was established to “provide a clearinghouse for current, up to date information and a source of technical and marketing assistance in the general areas of waste reduction and recycling” (NRRA 2008). The association was originally founded by four New Hampshire municipalities in 1981 and it now includes over 300 municipalities and businesses in New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Southern Maine. The main goal of the NRRA is to assist rural, small, and large
  • 14 urban communities in the creation and support of their own recycling programs. Eighteen municipalities in Cheshire County operate recycling centers. Richmond uses the Winchester recycling center, Roxbury uses the Marlborough recycling center, and Sullivan, Nelson, and Surry use the Keene recycling center (Figure 6). Figure 6 Exact Locations of Recycling Centers in Cheshire County, New Hampshire. The organization of the facilities varies by municipality. For example, the Keene Recycling Center has areas where residents throw their recyclables into separate piles. The Walpole Recycling Center has designated areas for each recyclable material. Walpole recyclers
  • 15 must separate glass into different groups based on color. The Keene Recycling Center does not require separation to this extent. Additionally, the Walpole Recycling Center has a reuse area where residents can drop off their old belongings and/or take items that have been dropped off for a small donation. The Keene Recycling Center has a book swap, but not a reuse center as in- depth as Walpole (Figures 7, 8, 9 and 10). Figure 7 Keene Recycling Center (KRC). Figure 8 KRC Cardboard Drop-off. Figure 9 Walpole Reuse Center. Figure 10 Walpole Recycling Center. Population size has no relation to the percent of MSW recycled in each respective municipality. For example, the towns of Dublin, Richmond, Sullivan, and Roxbury all have small populations. However, Dublin has a relatively high recycling percentage while the other three
  • 16 towns do not (Figure 11). Recycling in Keene is positively influence by Keene State College (KSC). KSC in the City of Keene has a successful recycling program integrated into the campus community. Mary Jensen, KSC’s sustainability and recycling coordinator for the program Recycling On Campus at Keene State (ROCKS), makes many efforts to increase recycling on campus. All of the recycling from KSC goes to the Keene Recycling Center to be processed, and funding for the ROCKS program is included in students’ tuition. Jensen has worked hard to improve the availability and visibility of recycling containers in academic buildings on the KSC campus. It has not been an easy process. According to Jensen, there needs to be a “behavior change for both faculty and students to throw away after class” for the program to be successful (Jensen 2008). The ROCKS program is similar to regionalization, in that the student body, faculty and campus staff pool together resources to ensure that the program is successful. ROCKS placed designated bins for glass, plastic, paper and waste in every hallway of the Science Center while taking trash bins out of classrooms to essentially force students and staff to recycle. The program has flourished in the Science Center and it has recently been extended to other academic buildings such as Morrison Hall. The ROCKS program has certainly improved the recycling habits of both students and faculty. KSC, in the year 2007, accounted for 5,282 people in the City of Keene (KSC 2007). It can be seen from Figure 12 that the age group of 20-24 years is the largest, which comprises mostly of students from KSC, explaining the dramatic drop in the number of people between the age groups 20-24 and 30-34. This could be a result of students graduating and moving away from the Keene area. Nonetheless, recycling rates have not decreased dramatically with the outflow of students, because there is a continuous influx of new students every fall.
  • 17 Figure 11 Percent Recycled in Cheshire County 2007. Figure 12 Population for the City of Keene 2000.
  • 18 CHAPTER 3: General Public Survey Methodology and Results Methodology While secondary information available allows for the municipalities in Cheshire County to be examined separately as well as comparatively in multiple aspects, survey analysis was utilized to gather additional insight. One survey, a general public survey, was created and administered at both the Keene Recycling Center and the Walpole Recycling Center. The Keene Recycling Center was chosen because of its central location as well as its size. The Keene Recycling Center also serves several towns which allowed for a variety in survey results. The same general public survey was also distributed at the Walpole Recycling Center. This recycling center was chosen for its proximity as well as its smaller size. The small size of Walpole’s population coupled with Keene’s population helped create a more representative sample of all the Cheshire County municipalities. The City of Walpole has PAYT recycling, which provided different insight than the results at Keene, and proved to be one of the most successful recycling centers in Cheshire County (according to secondary data analysis). The surveys were administered at the Keene Recycling Center on Saturday, October 11, 2008, and at both the Keene and Walpole Recycling Centers on Saturday, October 18, 2008 between 10:30 am and 1:30 pm (Figures 13 and 14). Figure 13 Administering Surveys at Figure 14 Administering Surveys at the Keene Recycling Center Oct. 18, the Walpole Recycling Center Oct. 18, 2008. 2008.
  • 19 The general public survey consisted of 20 questions (Appendix A). It was administered through face-to-face interaction by members of the group to the individuals at the recycling centers. Each survey required two to four minutes to complete. Different Likert scales were used in different portions of the survey and were clearly labeled with directions on how to respond to each question. Likert scales are frequently used in various fields of research. A statement is given, and the endpoints correspond to strongly disagree and strongly disagree (Sclove 2001). Seventy-eight surveys were completed; most of them were used towards data collection. The goal of questions one through three on the survey was to gather general information on the participants including gender, age, and whether they were a renter or homeowner. This information was valuable in studying the male to female ratio and average age at both recycling centers (Figures 15, 16 and 17). The third question was important to study accessibility and ease of recycling in which town they resided, and was followed by question five which asked how long they had lived in their town. This information was gathered to see residents of which municipalities were traveling to which recycling centers. Figure 15 Gender Distribution of Survey Participants.
  • 20 Figure 16 Age Distribution of Survey Participants. Figure 17 Percentage of Homeowners Among Survey Participants. Questions five, six and seven were created to find out how often participants were recycling and how long they were spending at the recycling center. Questions eight and nine were asked to find out how far people were traveling to recycle as well as how far people were willing to travel. These questions were asked to see if the consolidation of recycling centers in Cheshire County would have an influence on recycling participation.
  • 21 For Question 10, the participants were asked to rank the materials that they recycle by amount (1 being the largest amount and 5 being the smallest amount). The materials rated were plastic, metal, paper, glass, and cardboard. This question was included to acquire descriptive statistics on which materials participants were recycling the most and the least. In questions 11 through 20 the participants were asked to answer by reading the question and circling the appropriate number. For these questions a five-point Likert scale (1 = Strongly Disagree, 2 = Disagree, 3 = Neutral, 4 = Agree, 5 = Strongly Agree) was used in order for the data collected to be easily tested through the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). Results Questions 11, 12, 13, and 14 were general questions about recycling and the drive behind it. The questions were created from general reasons why people all throughout the United States have chosen to recycle. Question 11 gave the statement: “I recycle because it reduces the strain on the environment.” The mean response was 4.5584, indicating that most people agree or strongly agree with this statement. This is not surprising; advertisements to promote recycling often emphasize the environmentally friendly aspects of recycling. The MA DEP participation study yielded a similar result – 90 percent of the participants strongly agreed with the statement that they recycle because it is “good for society” (MA DEP 2000). Question 12 presented the statement: “I recycle because it helps the economy and creates many jobs.” The mean response was 3.9737, indicating that most people agree or are neutral with this statement. Again, no surprise here, the environmental advantages of recycling seem to overshadow the economical advantages. The economic benefits of recycling really are
  • 22 not stressed enough to the general public – this is something that should be addressed. The MA DEP participation study again revealed a similar result – only 38 percent of the participants strongly agreed with the statement that they recycle because it “provides jobs for Massachusetts residents” (MA DEP 2000). Question 13 stated: “I recycle because it reduces the amount of waste in my house.” The mean answer was 4.3378, suggesting that most people either agree or strongly agree with this statement. This statement is relatively similar to number 11, thus it received a similar mean value. Question 14 gave the statement: “I am willing to pay more taxes for better recycling programs.” The mean response was 3.3467, indicating that many people are about neutral with this statement. This was a somewhat surprising outcome; a mean under three was expected. After all, high taxes are frequently complained about by Americans. This outcome suggests that increased spending on recycling is not completely out of the question in Cheshire County. However, it is important to mention that higher per capita costs on recycling do not significantly correlate to greater percentages of MSW recycled in Cheshire County, as one of the secondary data correlations displayed. Arguably, the most important factor for increased recycling relates to the types of recycling programs that are utilized. Question 15 was created specifically to test the significance of the social aspect to recycling centers. This question was important to test the difference from the Keene Recycling Center to the Walpole Recycling Center. The mean answer was 3.0133, indicating neutrality with this question. A slightly higher mean was expected, though it is likely that many people view recycling as a chore or something they want to get over with as soon as possible. However, it is also possible that many recyclers are unconsciously aware that they enjoy the
  • 23 social component. Their subconscious mind may drive them to the recycling center each week because it craves that social component or that sense of involvement. Question 16 is about the availability of recycling centers and how they directly affect the amount people recycle. The mean response was 3.0270, resulting in another question met with neutrality. This was a rather surprising outcome – a mean over four was expected. However, in retrospect, this is a type of question that would favor asking participants who are not at a recycling center. After all, all of the survey participants were at a recycling center which implies that they have found the time to recycle. Questions 17 and 18 were created to gather insight on how the general public would feel about consolidation throughout Cheshire County of recycling centers and programs. The mean response for both of these questions indicated opposition towards consolidation. These questions were met with disagreement by many recyclers probably because they were unaware of the advantages of consolidation. If the survey could have somehow explained the advantages of consolidation, the results would likely be much different. Question 19 is also related to the consolidation of recycling centers but the focus is on the sharing of city resources such as dump trucks among neighboring towns. The mean response was 3.7083, indicating a mix of neutrality and agreement. This is an odd result. Recyclers are against the consolidation of recycling centers, but not the consolidation of resources. Perhaps the statement was met with more agreement than questions 17 and 18 because the advantages of shared resources are easier to visualize. The last question on the general public survey is a question about the involvement of politics in a town’s recycling program, and whether or not they affect the way the programs are
  • 24 run. The mean answer was 3.5429, indicating a mix of neutrality and agreement similar to question 19. Similar to questions 17 and 18, an explanation of how politics curtail the improvement of recycling programs would likely bring the mean closer to five. The bottom of the survey contains an area for additional comments. This was created to gather direct quotes and give the participant a chance to add any additional information or feelings on recycling in Cheshire County, Keene, and Walpole.
  • 25 CHAPTER 4: Expert Survey Methodology and Results Methodology Another type of survey was distributed at the Municipal Solid Waste Managers’ Meeting on October 1, 2008 in Troy, New Hampshire. This survey was created to gather more knowledgeable information from “experts” in the field of recycling and waste management. Experts were defined as anyone who worked in the recycling industry, or had a considerably higher than average knowledge of the recycling process. Additional surveys were distributed through email to contacts throughout Cheshire County. The participants were asked to provide their town affiliations and positions at the top of the survey to determine where the responses were coming from in relation to the towns’ recycling programs. The survey consisted of 10 questions, nine of which used a five-point Likert scale. The last question was an open-ended response question. Results Unfortunately, only 10 participants were involved in this survey. Consequently, only descriptive statistics could be obtained (Rogerson 2006). While no statistical tests could be conducted, the descriptive statistics still revealed some interesting results. For example, one of the survey questions asked participants to rate the effectiveness of each type of recycling program (PAYT, Curbside, and Mandatory) based on a five-point Likert scale (1= Very Ineffective, 2= Ineffective, 3= Neutral, 4= Effective, 5= Very Effective). The results (Figure 18) make sense based on the results of the statistical tests that were conducted on the secondary data. In other words, the recycling experts are aware that both PAYT and mandatory recycling are more effective than curbside recycling.
  • 26 Figure 18 Perceived Effectiveness of PAYT, Curbside, and Mandatory Recycling Programs Based on a Scale From 1 to 5. The experts were also asked to rate the importance of consolidation, mechanization, and socialization in respect to recycling. The results were both interesting and surprising (Figure 19). The average expert disagrees with the statements: “The number of recycling centers in Cheshire County should be decreased,” and “All recycling facilities in Cheshire County should become mechanized to increase effectiveness.” Figure 19 Importance of Consolidation, Mechanization, and Socialization in Respect to Recycling Based on a Scale From 1 to 5
  • 27 On average, it was expected that both of these statements were going to be met with either agreement or strong agreement. After all, during an interview with Duncan Watson, Solid Waste Manager of the Keene Recycling Center, he said with certainty that mechanization would considerably improve the economics of recycling in Cheshire County. He went on to add that in comparison to nearby recycling centers, the Keene recycling center processes much more recyclables in a short amount of time. He suggested that it would make economic sense for some of these nearby recycling centers to shut down and join the Keene recycling center. Some nearby municipalities such as Nelson, Surry, and Sullivan are already a part of the Keene recycling center. However, not all of the nearby municipalities have joined Keene; Watson attributed this situation to the social aspect of recycling. Many residents enjoy socializing at their local recycling centers. Watson and the average expert agree that the social aspect of recycling is important. The open ended question was about whether or not a consolidated (countywide) recycling program in Cheshire County would benefit the economy of Cheshire County. This question was left to be answered in the participants’ own words; to gather personal accounts and ideas as well as direct quotes to enhance further research. An additional comments section was also included at the bottom.
  • 28 Chapter 5: Statistical Analysis In order to better understand what variables affect recycling participation in Cheshire County, secondary data was analyzed in SPSS. It is important to note that five municipalities (Nelson, Richmond, Roxbury, Sullivan, and Surry) in Cheshire County were not analyzed because they do not have recycling centers (NH DES 2007). The variables chosen for analysis for all 18 municipalities were: percent MSW recycled in 2007, per capita recycling costs in 2007, per capita income in 1999, percent of population with Bachelor’s degree or higher in 2000, median age in 2000, people per square mile in 2006, and the presence or absence of PAYT, curbside recycling, and mandatory recycling in each respective municipality in 2001. The percent MSW recycled in 2007 data and the per capita recycling costs in 2007 data were both obtained from The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NH DES), while the rest of the data was obtained from The New Hampshire Economic and Labor Market Information Bureau (NH ELMB). After all of the data was entered into SPSS, descriptive statistics were calculated for all of the variables (Table 1). The mean of the percent MSW recycled in 2007 is remarkably close to the 2006 national mean which was 32.5 percent (EPA 2007). The annual per capita cost on recycling certainly varies by municipality, ranging from 27.61 to 181.06 dollars. This variation is likely the result of lowly populated municipalities that are unwilling to merge with nearby recycling centers, even though a merger would likely lower their per capita cost on recycling. Substantial variation also exists in the percent of population with Bachelor’s degree or higher in 2000 and the people per square mile in 2006 variables. The question of whether or not this variation affects the percent of MSW recycled needs to be answered. To answer this question
  • 29 two correlation tests were run. A correlation test measures the strength of the linear association between variables (Rogerson 2006). Table 1 Descriptive Statistics of Secondary Data for Cheshire County Municipalities with Recycling Centers. Minimum Maximum Mean Percent MSW Recycled in 2007 6.92 53.84 32.98 Per Capita Recycling Costs in 2007 27.61 181.06 79.13 Per Capita Income in 1999 16,012.00 27,028.00 21,040.39 Percent of Population 25 Years and Older with a Bachelor’s Degree or 9.00 44.60 26.28 Higher in 2000 Median Age in 2000 24.50 43.30 38.86 Population Per Square Mile in 2006 19.90 611.90 120.76 The first test correlated the percent recycled variable with the Bachelor’s degree variable. The test concluded that the correlation is both weak (0.281) and insignificant (0.258 significance level). This confirms that educational attainment does not significantly correlate with the percent of MSW recycled. Consequently, the null of the first hypothesis, which states that there is not a significant correlation between educational attainment and the percent of MSW recycled, is not rejected. The second test correlated the percent recycled variable with the people per square mile variable. The test concluded that the correlation is both insignificant (0.801 significance level) and weak (-0.064). This confirms that population density does not significantly correlate with the percent of MSW recycled. This correlation test was conducted because it has been suggested that recycling participation increases with increasing interactions between residents of a municipality (McKenzie-Mohr 2002). It is likely that a higher population density equates to increased interactions. In addition to the first two tests, the other three variables from Table 1 were also correlated with the percent MSW recycled variable. The correlation test between the percent
  • 30 recycled variable and the per capita recycling cost variable revealed a weak (-0.286) and insignificant (0.250 significance level) correlation. This indicates that increased spending on recycling does not significantly lead to greater percentages of MSW recycled. This is a rather surprising outcome – a significant correlation was expected. However, this outcome was likely influenced by the inherent problem with per capita variables. For example, if two municipalities with vastly different populations had identical recycling programs, the municipality with the higher population would have lower per capita costs, but the same percent of MSW recycled. In other words, the per capita cost variable is not normalized, unlike the percent MSW recycled variable. The correlation test between the percent recycled variable and the per capita income variable also revealed a weak (0.271) and insignificant (0.276 significance level) correlation. This indicates that wealthier municipalities do not recycle significantly more. This is not really a surprising result – an individual with more money does not necessarily want to recycle more. The final correlation test, between the percent recycled variable and the median age variable, also resulted in a weak (-0.155) and insignificant (0.539 significance level) correlation. Consequently, the null of the second hypothesis, which states that there is not a significant correlation between median age and the percent of MSW recycled, is not rejected. After all of the correlations were conducted, the effectiveness of each of the three types of recycling programs in Cheshire County was analyzed. The analysis was performed by conducting three two sample differences of means tests. A two sample difference of means test compares a sample mean with another sample mean, rather than with some known population value (Rogerson 2006). The first test compared the means of the percent MSW recycled
  • 31 variable between two groups: municipalities with PAYT and municipalities without PAYT in 2001 (Table 2). The test revealed that the percent of MSW recycled between the two groups was not significant (0.922 significance level). This outcome was unexpected – PAYT programs usually improve recycling percentages by a large margin. A recycling participation study was conducted in Boston by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MA DEP) in June 2000. The study revealed that recycling participation for individual materials is noticeably higher in PAYT communities (MA DEP 2000). The abnormality of this outcome is a likely result of Hinsdale, a PAYT municipality with an extremely low MSW recycling percentage (6.92). To determine whether or not Hinsdale was the culprit, the same test was run again but with Hinsdale excluded. The results were again insignificant, but the significance level was much more favorable (0.182). The second test compared the means of the percent MSW recycled variable between another two groups: municipalities with curbside recycling and municipalities without curbside recycling in 2001. The test concluded that the percent of MSW recycled between the two groups was insignificant (0.217). This is not really a surprising outcome. Curbside recycling programs do not necessarily lead to increased recycling percentages. The third test compared the means of the percent MSW recycled variable between yet another two groups: municipalities with mandatory recycling and municipalities with voluntary recycling in 2001. The test revealed that the percent of MSW recycled between the two groups was significant (0.019 significance level). Although as noted by Watson (2008), mandatory recycling is usually frowned upon, people in Cheshire County do recycle significantly more if forced by law. It is also interesting to note that, out of the 18 selected municipalities, Hinsdale
  • 32 has the lowest percent of MSW recycled. Hinsdale uses both PAYT and voluntary recycling. This suggests that PAYT needs to be coupled with mandatory recycling to reach its full potential. Marlow and Walpole are proof that mandatory recycling and PAYT work synergistically. Marlow had the highest (53.84) and Walpole had the second highest (47.88) percent of MSW recycled. They are the only municipalities in Cheshire County that utilize both PAYT and mandatory recycling (NH ELMB 2001). Table 2 Presence or Absence of Different Recycling Programs in Cheshire County Municipalities with Recycling Centers. Percent MSW Mandatory Municipality Recycled in Curbside 2001 PAYT 2001 2001 2007 Alstead 15.29 No No Yes Chesterfield 38.21 No No Yes Dublin 43.89 No No Yes Fitzwilliam 41.64 No No Yes Gilsum 25.54 No Yes Voluntary Harrisville 35.91 No No Yes Hinsdale 6.92 Yes Yes Voluntary Jaffrey 27.15 No No Yes Keene 31.51 No No Yes Marlborough 28.22 No No Yes Marlow 53.84 No Yes Yes Rindge 45.72 No No Yes Stoddard 24.07 No No Yes Swanzey 38.96 Yes No Yes Troy 45.72 Yes No Yes Walpole 47.88 No Yes Yes Westmoreland 21.76 Yes No Voluntary Winchester 21.33 Yes No Yes While the statistical analysis of the secondary data revealed some interesting recycling trends in Cheshire County, an in-depth look at the data obtained from the general public
  • 33 surveys should provide another useful perspective. As mentioned earlier, the mean responses to questions 17 and 18 from the general public surveys indicate that most recyclers oppose the consolidation of recycling centers in Cheshire County. This opposition incites several questions. Why do Keene and Walpole recyclers oppose consolidation? Is it because they enjoy the social component, or is it simply because they do not want to drive further? To answer these questions two correlation tests were conducted. The first test correlated question 15 to question 18. The results revealed a weak (0.075) and insignificant (0.534 significance level) correlation. This confirms that the social component of recycling is not a significant reason for opposing consolidation. The second test correlated a maximum distance (Figure 20) variable (survey participants were asked to write the maximum distance in miles that they would travel to recycle) to question 18. The results revealed a weak (-0.072) and insignificant (0.575 significance level) correlation. This confirms that travel distance is also not a significant reason for opposing consolidation. The results of these two correlations make it clear that opposition towards consolidation is difficult to statistically define. There are many possible reasons as to why these recyclers oppose consolidation. The null of the third hypothesis states that there is no significant difference in the enjoyment of the social component of recycling between Keene and Walpole. In order to test the null, another two sample difference of means test was conducted. The test compared the means of question 15 between Keene and Walpole. The test revealed a 0.127 significance level; consequently the null of the third hypothesis was not rejected. However, while 0.127 is statistically insignificant, it still indicates an 87.3 chance of being right if the null was rejected. Therefore, it is clear that many Walpole recyclers enjoy socializing more than Keene residents.
  • 34 Figure 20 Maximum Distance (in miles) Keene and Walpole Recyclers Are Willing to Travel to Recycle. The third hypothesis was initially established because it was expected that a municipality with a substantially lower population would have significantly more social enjoyment among its residents. After all, it is generally easier to socialize with people in smaller municipalities. However, as the previous test revealed, Walpole’s smaller population did not exhibit significantly higher social enjoyment. If a smaller population does not lead to increased social enjoyment, what does then? To answer this question, two more correlation tests were conducted. The first test correlated a ‘time spent’ (Figure 21) variable (survey participants were asked to estimate the average amount of time in minutes that they spend at their recycling centers) to question 15. The test revealed a weak (-0.005) and insignificant (0.964) correlation. This result indicates that recyclers who spend more time at the recycling center are not necessarily socializing more. The second test correlated a ‘years in town’ (Figure 22) variable (survey participants were asked to write in the number of years that they have lived in their towns) to question 15. The test revealed a weak (0.267) though significant (0.023 significance
  • 35 level) correlation. This outcome answers the question: increased tenure in a town results in increased social enjoyment at recycling centers. 14.52 Walpole 15.82 Keene 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Figure 21 Mean Time Spent (in minutes) at Keene and Walpole Recycling Centers. 19.1754 20 15.0714 18 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 Keene Walpole Figure 22 Mean Amount of Years Recyclers Have Lived in Their Towns.
  • 36 Chapter 6: Limitations and Conclusions Limitations A few limitations were encountered during the development of this thesis. Only a handful of solid waste and recycling center managers attended the Municipal Solid Waste Managers’ Meeting. It would have been helpful if managers from every town in Cheshire County had attended to obtain more information and opinions on recycling issues in the county. Another major limitation was the lack of current information from the towns in Cheshire County. Data varied between different sources, and many towns did not have up to date information on their recycling programs. Recycling programs are always changing. Keene’s recycling program provides an example of the ever-changing nature of recycling. In 2001, Keene had a mandatory recycling program (NH ELMB 2001), but in 2002, the program was no longer mandatory (Governor’s Recycling Program 2002). Figure 23 displays the most recent information on the three different types of recycling programs in Cheshire County. Information for the town of Troy was updated in 2005. For the towns of Winchester and Richmond, the information was updated in 2007. The towns of Roxbury, Marlborough, Keene and Marlow were updated in 2008, and the remaining towns’ information was used from the year 2002. There were also some limitations with the surveys when they were being conducted. Some of the surveys were not filled out completely, and some participants either did not have enough time to complete the surveys, or they did not want to complete them. Consequently, some participants may have circled random answers. Despite these limitations, the study still revealed some important findings about the status of recycling in Cheshire County.
  • 37 Figure 23 Most Recent Recycling Information Available, Cheshire County. Conclusions Since recycling started as a form of sanitation in the 1800’s, it has come a long way. It started as a means to control sanitation and evolved into a method for resource conservation. Different recycling programs have been developed over the years including curbside, mandatory, and PAYT. Each program is effective, but a combination of certain programs works the best. Together, PAYT and mandatory recycling are the most effective recycling programs. The towns of Marlow and Walpole were the only municipalities in Cheshire County to have a combination of both programs in 2001, and these towns had the highest percentage of MSW recycled. Analysis of the primary sources showed that there is no significant difference in the enjoyment of socialization at the Keene and Walpole recycling centers. Primary data analysis also revealed that greater lengths of time spent at recycling centers does not significantly
  • 38 correlate to the percent of MSW recycled. From analysis of secondary data, it was determined that education does not correlate to an increase in the percent of MSW recycled. This was unexpected; it was originally thought that higher education would increase the percent of MSW recycled. Analysis of the Recycling Center Experts Survey determined that recycling experts are against the consolidation of recycling programs in Cheshire County, not unlike recyclers from the towns of Keene and Walpole. However, residents of these two towns do support the idea of the consolidation of recycling resources. Recycling experts also believe that socialization is important and that mechanization is unimportant. The average per capita costs on recycling varies between municipalities. Towns with smaller populations are spending more money per capita on recycling than towns with larger populations. If the small towns merged their recycling programs with larger towns, their average per capita cost for recycling would decrease. Recycling in Cheshire County has greatly improved in the past decade. If the county could consolidate its recycling programs, then it would profit both environmentally and economically. Residents of the 23 municipalities need to be educated in the different recycling programs before major planning can begin. But once it does, recycling in Cheshire County will dramatically increase.
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