Practical Rural Recycling: Intersections Between Municipalities, Companies, and Residents

Authors: Angela Person*, The University of Oklahoma, Sarah Melcher, The University of Oklahoma, Randy Peppler, The University of Oklahoma
Topics: Environment, Human-Environment Geography, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: recycling, rural geography, sustainability, qualitative research
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: 8223, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Do the recycling programs that residents are willing to participate in align with the programs that are already available in rural communities? There is a gap in the literature on recycling programs regarding the practical implementation of these systems in rural communities; U.S. recycling research either ignores the millions of people who live in rural communities or fails to integrate community members’ opinions when trying to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfills. To address these concerns, I have investigated barriers to recycling in rural communities in central/south central Oklahoma, as well as the willingness of residents to engage in various recycling practices. To identify barriers to rural recycling, I asked three city managers and two recycling industry professionals about the challenges they faced when implementing and maintaining recycling programs in rural communities. These interviews yielded insight in to what recycling systems municipalities and companies were or were not willing to provide as well as challenges and benefits associated with each system. To identify resident willingness to engage in different recycling practices (ex: rinsing materials, sorting materials, paying for recycling services), I distributed a survey to residents in the study area. This paper discusses the results of this study with regards to the intersections between the recycling systems rural residents in Oklahoma are willing to engage in and the recycling systems that corresponding municipalities and companies are willing to offer, as well as the implications of this study for future research and the development of rural recycling programs.

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