Category: Waste Management (page 1 of 2)

Moving Forward with Multifamily Recycling

Lily Schwartz is a fellow in the 2018 Leaders in Environment and Finance (LEAF) program. As part of the LEAF Fellowship, Lily spent the summer of 2018 working as a technical assistance intern for The Recycling Partnership, a nonprofit organization that leverages corporate partner funding to improve recycling in cities and counties across the United States. Lily helped The Recycling Partnership to assess the nation’s current landscape for multifamily recycling and examine policies for moving forward.

There are many examples where families living in multifamily properties, such as apartment buildings and condominiums, have different levels of access than residents of single-family homes to important environmental services and programs. In the past, the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (EFC) has carried out applied research on a range of multifamily services, including access to energy efficiency programs and water bill assistance programs. Multifamily housing makes up nearly one-fifth of the total housing stock in the United States, with more than 20 million occupied housing units. In spite of this, a recent study found that less than 4 million people live in communities where recycling services are automatically provided to multifamily properties. Increasing access to convenient recycling services for multifamily residents can lead to environmental benefits by increasing resource recovery and reducing the water and air emission impacts of landfills and virgin material use. Better understanding current service practices and barriers to service expansion can help improve future service.

During the summer of 2018, a Leaders in Environment and Finance (LEAF) fellow from the EFC worked with The Recycling Partnership to assess the nation’s current landscape for multifamily recycling by conducting interviews with recycling programs leaders for all 50 states and 67 different municipalities.

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Scraps to Savings: Composting in Communities

Could mandatory composting be implemented in a municipality, and if so, what could this mean for communities? To answer this, we can look to San Francisco, the first U.S. city to implement a large scale composting collection program.

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Top Five Small Town Websites and Tips to Improve Your Own

For many small towns, websites are the main avenue of communication with residents. At the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, we use town websites to find contact information, water rates, and link towns around the United States to our resources, such as our water rates dashboards. The North Carolina Water Rates Dashboard is one of our most visited pages, and nearly three percent of the dashboard’s visitors in the past year have been directed here through the website of the town of Wilkesboro, North Carolina. Wilkesboro’s website is user-friendly and informative, making it a great resource for residents and visitors alike. Residents often rely on town websites for communication, public information, and access to helpful tools like our Rates Dashboards. Continue reading

No Butts left Behind: How to Pay for Cigarette Butt Collection and Recycling

Conventional wisdom holds the universal truth that littered cigarette butts are unsightly; an undesirable side effect of a habit which most smokers wish they could drop.  But while many smokers may not be successful in dropping their habit, they are far too successful at dropping their cigarette butts in the streets. According to Litter Free Planet, a nonprofit anti-litter organization, 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are littered worldwide annually, accounting for 75% of the 6 trillion sold. Keep America Beautiful, another anti-litter educational group, reports that cigarette butts account for an estimated 38% of litter in the United States, and states, counties, and municipalities spend a collective $1.3 billion on litter abatement annually. Another $9 billion and $241 million annually is spent by private businesses and educational institutions, respectively. If the cost of cigarette litter abatement is proportional to the percentage of the litter which it comprises, then cigarette butt litter clean-up costs the United States $4 billion per year. And this is just the direct cost. Additional costs are born in forest fires ignited by improper disposal of lit cigarettes, decreased property values in littered neighborhoods, and lost tourism revenues in regions with littered roadsides or in coastal town beaches mistaken for ashtrays.

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Four Steps of Effective Project Management

As the Assistant Program Manager at the UNC Environmental Finance Center (EFC), I work ‘behind the scenes’ on internal projects related to the every day management of our center. In my role facilitating organizational development at the EFC, I recently spent time researching project management best practices. At the EFC, we help communities design, implement, and finance sustainable environmental projects and programs, and not surprisingly, strong project management structure is often a critical component of any sustainable program. While some of this research was specific to the EFC, many of the lessons I discovered are broadly applicable, whether you’re working for a small water utility or a statewide initiative.  Through this post, I would like to share four easy steps to streamlined project management for any size project.

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