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EREF Develops Method to Analyze Recycling Data by Neighborhood

The Environmental Research and Education Foundation (EREF) has developed a method to break down recycling data within a community to specific areas, so recycling managers can better track where a recycling program is working and where it isn’t.

Raleigh, N.C.-based EREF also has come up with a way to take that customized data and determine any correlations that might explain why a recycling program isn’t doing so well in a particular area, the organization said in a news release.

EREF’s method uses new tracking techniques and geographical information system (GIS) data. It allows for recycling rates to be computed for a neighborhood, a street or an individual resident.

Once that data is obtained, EREF can overlay demographic information to find any correlations that would identify reasons behind low rates.

The development came out of work EREF was doing with TFC Recycling and Sonrai Systems collecting data from Chesapeake, Va. “What we found has allowed us to evaluate the data in a unique way that could redefine how recycling programs are managed,” said Bryan Staley, EREF president and CEO.

“If I know rates are above average or below expectations in certain sections of the city, we know specifically where to spend our time and dollars on educating and incentivizing residents to recycle,” said David Thompson, Chesapeake solid waste director.

“The potential impact of the approach developed is huge, and could be the biggest  thing to hit the solid waste industry since single-stream recycling,” said Michael Benedetto, president of TFC Recycling.

The method can be applied to wastes destined for a landfill and waste-to-energy facilities as well, Staley said.


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