Recycling Research


In 2006 - The Department was awarded a DEP Innovative Recycling Grant to study: "Participation Barriers to Recycling in an Urban Environment." Thegrant goals were:
  • To identify and overcome barriers to recycling in the in the urban environment.
  • To increase recycling participation rates through future incentive and pilot programs.

Pilot areas chosen were those with historically low participation rates and high level of diversity: N. Sulphur Springs and Belmont Heights/Ybor City.

Research: Focus Groups and telephone surveys were conducted to measure residents' attitudes, awareness, and satisfaction with Tampa's recycling program. 

Residential Recycling Pilot Components: 

  • Education Campaigns in both targeted areas
  • Track recycling setout rates via driver data tracking reports for 3 to 4 weeks
  • Gift Cards and Ticket Awards - Incentive area only -- top 10% of recyclers
  • 65 gallon rolling cart and blue bins -- residents in both areas

Community Partners - Tampa Bay Times Forum, MOSI, Anheuser Busch Recycling, Busch Gardens, Gasparilla / Event Fest, Tampa Convention Center and Gasparilla Distance Classic Association.

Residential Pilot Findings:

  • Carts had the most impact on recycling participation rates (even more so than incentives) and increased recycling participation by: 
    • 30% increase in the incentive area (North Sulphur Springs)
    • 28% increase in the non-incentive area (Belmont Heights/Ybor)

Recommendations based on Findings:

  • Increase targeted recycling education to residential households
  • Make the reward or incentive program an annual event and target specific areas of the City to increase participation
  • Convert to single stream automated carts without incentives

Commercial Recycling Pilot Components:

  • Collection of recycling data from commercial businesses located in the 2 target areas 
  • Development and execution of a survey of commercial businesses in the target areas (the primary purpose of the survey was to understand the barriers that may hinder recycling participation, as well as the incentives that could potentially increase recycling rates)
  • Driver data tracking reports
  • Educational materials and pilot announcement
  • Waste assessments of the commercial businesses
  • Procurement of recycling containers and supplies

Commercial Pilot Findings:

  • For all the days data was provided, recycling participation was 100%
  • As a result of the commercial survey, strong interest in commercial recycling was expressed by Ybor City businesses
  • All five businesses expressed concerns re: missed pickups, overflows, and the need to make calls
  • Targeted commercial businesses had a 100% participation rate
  • Waste assessments are an effective tool to promote commercial recycling
  • As a result of the waste assessments, all 5 businesses expanded or improved their recycling programs

Recommendations based on Findings:

  • Educate customers about commercial recycling and benefits
  • Promote single stream recycling services and costs
  • Offer waste assessments and other technical services to encourage commercial recycling
  • Reduce incoming City service calls regarding over-flowing recycling containers from businesses
  • Train drivers to pick up flattened cardboard recycling stacked on ground
  • Provide additional or larger containers if over-flow is an issue
  • Recommend a rate study for commercial businesses