Policy Study

Nationwide Diversion Rate Study

Quantitative Effects of Program Choices on Recycling and Green Waste Diversion

Executive Summary

Even though there are 7,375 curbside and over 9,000 dropoff recycling programs across the nation, thousands of yard waste programs (bringing materials to over 3,316 composting facilities), and over 2,800 variable rates programs, communities have very little quantitative information available to help them improve their waste management programs. At conferences, when planners ask about the likely impacts of possible program improvements, the answers usually begin, “well, the city of [fill in the blank] made that change and found…”. As planners know, answers like this are seldom transferable to other communities. The information that is available from manuals or the literature are generally case studies of single (or a small number of) communities. And unfortunately, the case study communities that receive publicity are usually those that were “special” in some way, making the information from their experience even less representative or transferable to other communities.


Dr. Lisa A. Skumatz is an economist and Principal of the research and consulting firm Skumatz Economic Research Associates, Inc. (SERA), 1511 Third Avenue, Suite 1000, Seattle, Washington, 98101, Phone: 206/624-8508. Dr. Skumatz has conducted extensive research on market-based and other incentives in solid waste, and specializes in program evaluation and cost-effectiveness analysis for recycling/solid/hazardous waste, energy conservation, and water conservation programs. Among other assignments, she was an invited participant in the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy's "Environmental Reform: The Next Generation Project," which focused on market-based incentives in environmental policy. She has written several policy papers for Reason Public Policy Institute on solid waste and rate issues.