Model City ProfileModel City Profile

Phoenix, Arizona
Population: 1,512,986
Bottle Bill: No
Collection Method: Municipal employees
Funding: Monthly user fee
Households Served: 389,000
Truck Type: Side loading fully automated
Container Type: Two 90 gallon rolling carts
Materials Processing Facility: Single stream processing
Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix is the 5th largest US City and spread over 516 square miles. They have nearly 15,000 City employees and routinely City departments and private contractors compete in a bidding process to determine who can best provide services to customers at the lowest cost. Currently City employees provide refuse and recycling collection in all but one of six service areas. (In September 2009, they will service all six areas.) All City refuse customers have the opportunity to recycle and roughly 90% currently receive curbside recycling service.

The City launched Phoenix Recycles in 1989, which grew from an initial pilot recycling program of 4,000 households to serve 389,000 households today with weekly, automated, single stream recycling collection. The city originally designed "Phoenix Recycles" to use existing trucks and personnel on the same twice-a-week collection schedule. Recycling became part of the City’s plan to handle growth in the late 1980’s after dwindling landfill capacity and a University of Arizona study of the composition of Phoenix’s residential refuse showed that 50 percent by weight (and 63 percent by volume) was recyclable.

In 1992, the City contracted with New England CRInc. to sort and market materials collected in the City at one of the first, single stream recycling facilities in North America. In 1995, New England CRInc was sold to Waste Management, and then in 1998 to Hudson Baylor West. In 1998 the City of Phoenix opened another MRF to help handle the large volume of material collected from Phoenix and today uses both facilities.

Last year, the City collected nearly 110,000 tons of recyclable material from Phoenix households, more than 560 pounds collected per household served. All 1-5 family households are served with weekly recycling and households living in 5 – 30 dwelling unit structures can sign up for the recycling collection service. Close to 90% of those on the City refuse service have voluntarily accepted curbside recycling. However contamination in recycling set-outs continues to be a problem for Phoenix with between 10 to 20% of materials set out being unacceptable for recycling.