Unawareness Of Curbside Service Hurts Recycling

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The hassle of hauling trash to a collection center is the main reason more people in the Knoxville area do not recycle, a University of Tennessee survey shows.

Most of those people could have recyclables picked up free at their homes but don’t know curbside pickup service exists, the study shows.

Dr. Pratibha A. Dabholkar, a UT-Knoxville assistant professor of marketing, surveyed 166 residents to see how many recycle waste and what motivates them.

The study showed 66.9 percent recycled at home. Most (88.3 percent) of the reasons for recycling were societal, such as “avoiding filling landfills” or “saving natural resources.” Only 11.7 percent were personal reasons such as “saving money.”

Non-recyclers gave personal reasons, mostly inconvenience, for not recycling. Others said they believe “recycling has no impact.”

However, many people could recycle with less inconvenience than they realize, Dabholkar said. More than half of those surveyed lived in areas with free curbside recycling service, but about 60 percent of both recyclers and non-recyclers in such areas did not know they had the service, she said.

“Since people don’t recycle mainly because of inconvenience, awareness of curbside recycling is likely to encourage them to recycle,” Dabholkar said. “Also, most recyclers with access to curbside recycling end up hauling their recyclable trash to collection centers.”

The report concluded: “If (low awareness, low usage of curbside pickup) continues, the process may be discontinued as a failed policy. More effort needs to be put immediately into informing those who have access to free curbside recycling that the service is available.”

Contact: Dr. Pratibha Dabholkar (423-974-1656)

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