Analyzing Recycling Education Programs in the US: A Longitudinal Analysis
The U.S. recycling rate has dramatically improved from 6.4% to 35.1% between 1960 and 2017. However, for the past decade, it has been stagnant at around 34 percent. In fact, according to a 2017 report by Eunomia and the European Environmental Bureau, the U.S. was ranked 27th worldwide in recycling rates. Prior research has illustrated a lack of public participation and insufficient information about the best recycling practices as part of the reasons for the stagnant recycling rate. Furthermore, there is generally limited research on recycling education programs in the United States. This study thus analyzes the role of recycling education programs on recycling rates in order to determine whether environmental education is an integral strategy to increase recycling rates. By relying on the U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency)’s database on Environmental Education Grants, we created a database of recycling education projects by using the keyword search. This study found that recycling education only accounts for 11% of environmental literacy programs and has steadily decreased over time. We also found that the U.S. EPA funded recycling projects are positively related to population size and the number of landfill sites in each state using OLS regression analysis. The findings illustrate the imminent need for expanding public expenditures on more recycling education programs, which will improve recycling awareness, contribute to higher recycling rates, and ultimately lead to the creation of a circular economy.
Copyright (c) 2022 BILLY OH, AASHNA SAWHNEY, TARUN SIVANANDAN, Younsung Kim
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