Are you more likely to recycle if you don’t have to sort your items?

Minneapolis is starting to distribute single-sort recycling bins that allow residents to put all of their recyclables into a single container. The city joins a number of other Minnesota municipalities that no longer require residents to sort their recycling. Today’s Question: Are you more likely to recycle if you don’t have to sort your items?

  • Bruce

    I enjoy recycling and would do it regardless of whether or not I should have to sort. As it is I often wash or rinse containers, which is far more time consuming.

    I learned of a remarkable trait of great scientists of the industrial age: many of them were extremely parsimonious with their materials, such as their papers and the notes they crammed onto them. It was as if this economy were an integral part of their creative power. There may be something important there, as well as other desirable traits that issue fourth from such economy. We are now a very profligate culture, and our waste is not edifying.

  • John O.

    We have had single-sort recycling in our community for several years now, and I can say without hesitation that it makes it much easier. The containers with lids help reduce the chance of wind, rain, sleet and/or snow creating a debris field downwind. The wheels also reduce the chance of tweaking one’s back as well.

  • David

    It would be nice to have a link to some of the new data on this program. I suppose I should visit the recycling facility, online at least. I’m rather suspicious about its efficiency and efficacy. 100 percent recycling would be desirable, reusing all of the matter that may have once gone to landfills or been burned.

    Who knows? Maybe Mr Fusion is just around the corner, it is 2012 after all.

  • David

    Oh yeah, our household recycles everything that we can and we compost. This may simply help to expedite things, which is good. However, I don’t want things to be completely invisible, until of course it’s time…

  • linda

    Not having to separate recycling will make it easier but we have always been recyclers. it just seemed like the best thing to do.

  • Lavelle Kroontje

    I do believe that if i didn’t have to sort I would recycle more, but the hinderance for me is needing to bring my recycling to a center. Who wants to put garbage in their trunk and drive it 30 min to a recycling center? The inconvenience of sorting my recycling is less significant than being my own garbage pickup

  • Keith

    Seriously? Sorting your recyclables is some great hardship?

    We’ve always sorted, except when we were forced into contracting with one of those mega-trash haulers who took away our by-the-bag option (where you buy a bunch of prepaid garbage bags and only put out trash when you actually have some. I put out a bag about once a month). Somewhat convenient, but very expensive. Now that a local hauler is offering the by-the-bag option again, we went back to our recycling sort bins, which I then haul to the local recycling center once very 2 months or so. Hardly inconvenient.

  • Ann

    Not really. In our city, we have been told that we can recycle more things–plastic containers, TV dinner trays. bakery plastics. People buy those things for convenience. Who wants to take the time and use the water to wash them? Also, the amount they add to property taxes for the recycling is just an added burden for people with set incomes.

  • GregX

    My city went no sort – but I still do. What I would prefer, or rather hope, is that our recycling system adatps to consume all packaging types or that we only use recyclable packaging on our goods.


  • Gary F

    Problem with not having the homeowner sort their recycling is that the city or company that is in charge of selling the product gets a lot less money for their product. The products will need to have either further sorting, costing money, or have fewer choices of how to re-use the product. The better the sorting, the more money that it can be sold for, and the more in demand the product is.

    So what happens is the costs to the city or recycling provider go up substantially. Thus the need for more subsidies.

    So, if it costs more and has few uses, is it worth it to feel good?

  • Adam

    It won’t make me recycle any more as I already recycle everything I can. But, as a Minneapolitan, I sure look forward to not spending every other Sunday night standing outside putting different recyclables into different small bins. And my porch-based recycling center is going to become A LOT more compact.

  • GregX

    GaryF – So, if it costs more and has few uses, is it worth it to feel good?


    A fair question. In general – the concept is that no-sort results in more materials moving INTO recycling and OUT of the land-fill, which also costs quite.

    Since recycled materials do have some additional value or less lost value then land fill buried materials … there is a general cost benefit to the city or county.

    Landfill space is generally harder to come by – because the siting issue becomes intertwined with concerns for : simple location, local approval, traffic and transport costs, development, regulatory compliance costs, ground-water pollution, odor.

    Recycling – is almost a forgone conclusion – regardless of cost. Its effectively the virtual land-fill …. live processing of our waste stream into some kind of useful out product.

    Projects like waste burners – even if it doesn’t generate income may become more publicly feasible than land-fills. Other technologies like thermal depolymerization … which generates industrially useful compounds like carbon, sulfer, etc. may be our future as our population density increases.

    Burying vs recyling is the old see-saw. The new one is … land fills are gone/done … How are you going to deal with your waste now???

  • JasonB

    I would be, I suspect, if I didn’t already recycle. Being easier is always a great motivator. I also suspect that those who have always recycled accepted the additional responsibility of sorting without giving it another thought.

    With no sorting there would be little excuse to not recycle. It takes no more effort to throw something into one bin over throwing it into another bin right next to it. I suppose it does take that nanosecond or two of thought to determine whether the item is recyclable or not – oh what a bother!

    I will appreciate getting a brand new, larger bin. My old one was too small and falling apart.

  • Mary

    I didn’t mind sorting our recycling. When our city went to single stream recycling it saved us time and space. It is definitely easier to toss stuff into another garbage can. We definitely recycle more stuff because more is accepted. (Like phone books.) Our recycling can is always full on garbage day and our garbage can usually only has two or three bags in it, and that’s after we got a smaller garbage can. I think more people will use recycling this way.

  • Gary F

    So, it will cost more to have non-sortable recycling, and the cost will be borne by the taxpayer.

    People are already fleeing Minneapolis because of the taxes.

    I guess all that will be left will be the “Happy to pay” folks. Is that enough?

  • Ron

    Not an issue as when we moved from one ‘burb with single-sort to another ‘burb without, it did not change our recycling habits.

    The real convenience is curbside service. Having to sort is no hardship whatsoever.

  • Mark in Freeborn

    Yes, if single-stream recycling was available, I would recycle a lot more. As it is, our town has curbside recycling, but I have found that if it isn’t separated and prepared exactly according to certain requirements, it won’t be picked it up at all. That makes recycling more trouble than it’s worth, although I would like to be more Earth-friendly.

  • GregX

    GaryF- “I guess all that will be left will be the “Happy to pay” folks. Is that enough?” ……….

    I think you are missing the point. You pay for trash hauling and burial. You (may) pay for recycling. Two streams from one source : Household waste. In the future, near? – as population rises … there won’;t be much in the way of nearby space for dumps/land-fills. Costs will become hideously expensive to move the trash out. Transitioning to recycling isn’t some goofy lefty experiment – its hard core cities acting like buisnesses – and thinking ahead 20-30 years.

  • Emily

    I just remember my high school had something like this. One recycling bin, and people threw whatever in there. And if something was in there that couldn’t be recycled, the staff threw all the recycling in the trash. So we actually didn’t have recycling at all, it all was thrown away.

    So I’d prefer to sort. It makes it feel more official. But overall, yeah I think people would be more likely to recycle if it was easy.

    Though I’d recycle anyway, and I think that’s true for the majority of people who already recycle. You recycle because it’s a good thing to do, not because it’s easy.

  • Philip

    I would recycle anyway. Conservation shouldn’t be a left or right issue and we all need to be good stewards with what we have been given.

  • Eric, Saint Paul

    I recycle as much as possible anyway, but this is an issue of cost. As I understand it, single-sort recycling bins mean more workers at recycling plants to do it for us. It translates into more jobs (or perhaps more expensive machinery, but we pay for it through our bills or taxes. Considering the trade-off, do YOU prefer to sort it yourself or pay someone else to do it?

  • Bruce Beck

    I live out in Lake Elmo We have had single sort recycling fo years. I put my garbage can out side but my recycling can in the garage–I recycle about 3X the volume of the trash

  • Linda in Plymouth

    I am more likely to recycle if the President and DFL officials would practice as they preach. They endorsed 20 billion of our stimulus money being sent to Brazil for deep water oil drilling, with Obama saying, : we want to be Brazil’s best customer of oil.” Then he shuts downt eh gulf drilling for a year, killing 12,400 American jobs in the name of the environment, even when the advsiers said that was not needed but his EPA czar goes on TV and says otherwise..its as bad a s Ambassador Rice going on 5 cable Sunday News shows to give us false stories about the massacre at Benghzai where our President would not give the order to assist our people..then he lets Libya supposedly stall our FBI to go in and investigate the consulate attack for 26 days, long enough for reporters though to find documents showing the incompetence or political wishes of Hillary and Barack to 1. either give the false impression that they routed out Al Queda…mean while Al-Queda is today much bigger and more widespread than ever..they have a strong foothold in Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Mali or 2. Hillary and Barack refused to save our people in Benghazi because they couldn’t risk letting the public know they had the CIA holding two 2 Al Queda operatives at the near by annex for questioning…against the law. Then again, was it not Obama who used our military to go into Libya without getting the required by law, approval from Congress? or did he just forget to follow the laws?

    Recycle the ones that got elected with voter fraud. Go see the data from Pennsylvania and Ohio_ Ohio where Obama won by 100,000 votes yet today they still have not counted another 340,000 votes still sitting on their tables. Pretty sad, no? Where did they send Hillary so she would be far away and not near the press while this story unravelled? She was sent to South America and then weeks later, she is on a wine tasting trip over seas so she is far away again when the GENERAL PATRAEUS STORY come to light. Is odd, no? Is recycling the same as when impeachment vote comes along? In Romania, by now many of these characters would be running into the woods to hide from citizens anger for being lied to so much times in a row.