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Measuring Recycling Just Got Easier

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Are you looking for a tool that will make it easy to calculate a recycling rate? The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed a voluntary, standard methodology for measuring recycling rates that saves time and effort, produces useful information for planning and decision-making, provides accurate, up-to-date numbers for market development, and allows for easier data collection from the private sector. Using the methodology, state and local governments can calculate a recycling rate that can be easily compared with other states and communities across the country. The methodology was developed with input from those who have a stake in measuring recycling—state and local governments, recycling companies, and the waste management industry.

"Whether you’re already measuring recycling or just starting out, you’ll be thankful there’s a resource out there to help you," said Kip Eagles, Recycling Survey Coordinator for the Washington State Department of Ecology.

EPA explains the standard methodology in detail in its guidance document, Measuring Recycling: A Guide for State and Local Governments (document number EPA530-R-97-011). In addition to information on both the core and flexible elements of the methodology, the document provides ‘real life’ examples, hints and tips, a glossary of more than 100 standard terms, standard volume-to-weight conversion factors, and other useful tools.

For states and localities already measuring recycling, the guidance document provides an abbreviated form of the methodology known as the ‘translator,’ to use in recalculating their recycling rate according to the EPA method. "We’ve been pleased with every aspect of the (translator) methodology—it has worked very well for us," commented Carl Hursh, Chief of Recycling and Markets for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

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