Model City ProfileModel City Profile

Wilmington, Delaware
Population: 72,828
Bottle Bill: Yes
Collection Method: Municipal employees
Funding: General Funded
Households Served: 22,000
Truck Type: Rear loaders, semi-automated using cart tippers
Container Type: 64 gallon carts for recycling
Materials Processing Facility: Single stream processing
Wilmington, Delaware

The City of Wilmington had very limited curbside recycling until 2006. Refuse was collected twice per week by City crews and paper was collected curbside for recycling from a few thousand homes in one area of the City.

There was an extensive system of “24/7” recycling drop-offs conveniently located throughout the City and greater New Castle County, which were operated by the Delaware Solid Waste Authority. However, even though the drop-offs were centrally located at places like shopping plaza’s, grocery stores and parking lots, participation was relatively low (less than 20%), and recyclers were driving extra miles just to recycle.

Recognizing the need to increase recycling, the City of Wilmington piloted curbside recycling to 6000 households representative of the City’s demographics, offering single stream collection using 64 gallon carts and the RecycleBank incentive program. To cover the cost of the new recycling collection service, the City eliminated refuse collection on the 2nd day of the week, and replaced it with recycling collection. This enabled the City and crews to follow the same collection schedule, but with refuse collected the first collection day and recycling the second day of each week. (See attached recycling calendar.)

The City also used the same fleet for recycling, mounting cart tippers with the RecycleBank scale interface onto their rear load refuse packers. Success came quickly, with diversion rates measured over 30 percent, and in 2007 the City expanded the program to all households on the refuse collection service.

Last year, the City collected roughly 6650 tons of recyclables from participating households, or an average of over 600 pounds per household served by the collection program. This was a surprisingly high quantity for a City that had recycled very little only 18 months earlier. Diversion rates for the City’s trash collection were around 30 percent under the new city-wide program and refuse routes did not need to be extended to make up for the elimination of the second refuse collection day. Roughly 80 percent of the city’s refuse customers are currently on the recycling collection program.