The purpose of this research was to propose an effective and feasible recycling program to the City of Auburn, Maine. We worked closely with Auburn’s Recycling Committee and with Bates College in order to accomplish the goal of increasing Auburn’s recycling rate and decreasing their contamination rate. We examined a variety of scholarly and practitioner sources in order to grasp the effectiveness of respective recycling practices and programs implemented around the country. From this extensive research we were able to conclude that there is a clear consensus on the effectiveness of curbside recycling, single stream recycling, container attributes (i.e. color, size), and composting programs in raising town and city recycling rates. Throughout the recycling literature there were also areas of competing claims, most notably, regarding unit pricing schemes; some studies found the intervention to be successful, while others concluded this practice to be ineffective. Educational programs were found to be ineffective in raising recycling rates, but more effective in lowering contamination rates. That being said, educational programs are very diverse. Inventions that target social norms and social pressures, such as feedback, were more effective than educational programs built on brochures and meetings. We conducted outreach to several municipalities around Maine in order to obtain results that could be easily comparable to Auburn, ME specifically. We collected waste management experiences from representatives in South Portland, Bangor, Biddeford, and Farmington, Maine. From that outreach we determined that, in practice, the most successful and effective interventions were a composting program, and a feedback system; both achieved an increase in recycling rate and a decrease in contamination rate.
After analyzing the results of our scholarly literature review and outreach to Maine Municipalities we considered feasible options for the City of Auburn specifically. This consideration ultimately led to our three-part recommendation and proposal. Part one is to implement a composting program in order to redirect waste and lower Auburn’s total Municipal Solid Waste weight. Part two is to introduce a feedback system that educates residents on their own recycling and contamination habits. Part three encourages a new contract with a different 3 company and poses EcoMaine as a prime option due to the variety of services offered as well as its popularity among other Maine Municipalities. We hope our recommendation(s) can serve as a foundation for discussions revolving potential recycling interventions and implementations in Auburn, ME.
Sedoric, Annie and Bucki, Erin, "A Recycling Recommendation for Auburn, Maine" (2020). Community Engaged Research Reports. 71.