In the year since the "Go all in" recycling program was launched in Davenport and Bettendorf, the total tonnage of recyclables collected has increased 250 percent.
That means residents in the two cities recycled 17,392 tons of materials in the year since the new program began, compared with 6,783 tons in 2015-16, said Kathy Morris, director of the Waste Commission of Scott County that operates the recycling program. She called it "amazing."
The increase announced Wednesday is due to greater participation by residents — an average of 82 percent between the two cities — and a change in operation that greatly expanded the types of materials that are accepted for recycling.
Under "Go all in," or single-stream recycling, just about every kind of recyclable plastic, except Styrofoam and bags, is accepted. And it all goes in one bin with no sorting.
The participation rate means that 82 percent of residents recycled at least once during their last two opportunities.
"That is amazing participation," Morris said.
Business is so brisk that the commission is adding a second shift for sorting at the recycling center, with 11 additional jobs beginning Sept. 1.
And that's not all.
The city of Clinton also is switching to single-stream recycling and beginning Oct. 1, will ship all its recyclables to Scott County, further increasing business, Morris said. About 1,500 tons per year are expected, she said.
In addition, the center has picked up a couple of additional haulers that are further boosting the recycling business.
The switch to the new recycling program in Davenport and Bettendorf was prompted, in large part, by a study done by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources in 2011 that showed that almost as many recyclable materials were showing up in the trash as were being recycled.
In addition, about 13 percent of trash contained yard waste.
Clearly, people weren't getting the message. And it occurred to Morris that the 18- to 30-year-olds who now are taking care of yards had perhaps never been informed that yard waste should be separated from garbage.
Research showed that communities offering what is called "single stream" recycling had greater participation so, after much study, the waste commission made the switch.
Significant costs were involved. The recycling center had to be expanded, and new processing equipment and carts had to be purchased for a total of $11 million. But, as the stats show, the effort is paying off.
The quest to find more items for diversion continues. In May, a contractor hired by the Department of Natural Resources conducted another "waste characterization study," going through waste at the landfill, looking for trends. The report should be out in October.