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Mar 23

Dear Recyclinda: Who recycles in Palm Beach County?

Posted on March 23, 2018 at 3:17 PM by Becky Robinson


Dear Recyclinda,

I swear I'm the only person on my street who takes the time to recycle. Do you have any information about who is actually recycling in Palm Beach County?

Wondering in West Palm Beach

While we at the SWA would like to see everyone in Palm Beach County pitch in and break out their blue and yellow recycling bins, it's clear that, like your street, Dear Wonder, we do not have 100% participation. So we recently undertook a study to see who was already on board with their bins and who is delinquent with their debris.

Our Recycling Field Team executed a Set-Out Study, in which we went to specific neighborhoods throughout the County and counted to see who had their recyclables "set out" at the curb. Using Census data, we targeted neighborhoods with different socio-economic demographics to quantify whether or not income level correlated with recycling choices.

Here is what we found by community:

2017-2018 Set Out Rate Study Chart

In neighborhoods with the lowest average income level, the recycling rate was in the 30% range. The highest income neighborhoods, however, saw a recycling rate of over 53%.

We've spent a lot of time reflecting on why this disparity between income-earners might be. Recycling in Palm Beach County is primarily funded by a property tax (though the sales of recyclable commodities also support the program), so there are no additional costs to recycle. For instance, residents who request recycling bins can have them delivered to their door at no charge.

What this report says to us is, not only does the SWA need to continue to make recycling convenient, we also need to do a better job of explaining why we should all Recycle Right. And tailor this message specifically to the lower income communities..

And that, Dear Wonder, is a much longer blog post.


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