Improve existing systems with monetized recycling system
Implement a specialized recycling program within the public works system which pays individuals to recycle at all levels. Much like the bottle redemption system which massively improved bottle recycling if we had deposits on more of the recyclable products it will incentivise people to recycle. This would also provide a revenue stream for the disposal of items which are not being recycled properly, if the unclaimed deposits where pushed into a fund to clean up and properly dispose of waste.
Explain your idea in one sentence
Financial incentives to recycling are efficient and predictable methods for improving participation and reducing waste.
Using existing systems we would need to introduce legislation that would monetize recycling. Ideally this would be a nationwide system that is monitored and implemented by the states. Allocation of funding would be minimal as the system would generate revenue through the recycling itself and the deposit money would pass through the system.
Graph of impact on recycling due to deposit laws.
Issues would exist in how to develop infrastructure and the implementation of a deposit system that is both incentivising and feasable. The best system would determine the monetized cost of improper disposal for an item and set that as the redemption price. If an item is consumable, or often transferred as in the case of paper, we couldn't fairly place a deposit on the item or the deposit would have to be low enough to allow for loss, while at the same time being high enough that collection and turn-in of bulk amounts would be worthwhile.
Describe how your idea would help form new habits and improve recycling at home
This would turn recycling into a system much like bottles. While it is making another chore for people, because it has monetized rewards people will be more inclined to participate. Though I would be impressed if we saw levels approaching the redemption rate on bottles I think that we would see much higher rates than we do now.
How might you design an early, lightweight experiment to further develop your idea?
To implement this system as a test I would choose a smaller city that is located in a populous state to implement the system as a trial. If successful, expansion and modification from the initial test site or sites would allow for adoption across a broader population, until the system could be implemented on a more national scale.
What aspects of your idea could benefit from the input of our OpenIDEO community?
Detailed information on the cost of not recycling would be appreciated.
Implementation of similar programs might have taken place that I was unable to find while searching.
What are major obstacles to implementation other that passing of bills/legislation?