How do municipalities calculate reported diversion and recycling rates? From what I can tell, most are using surveys of private recycling companies without a standard system of measure or process to validate reported numbers are accurate.

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    I suspect this is largely unanswerable without doing a survey, though I suppose it's possible one may have been done already. I also wonder whether there are standards defined for this kind of thing, such as through ISO ( iso.org/iso/home.html ) Jun 22, 2016 at 0:55
  • I think the method of calculation depends on local legislation, so it may differ per municipality or state. Just as an example; this website of CalRecycle (no affiliation) has some interesting information on 2 different calculation methods. One they used until 2007 and one they use now. The lack of standards make it possible to 'manipulate' the diversion rate (e.g. see this article)
    – THelper
    Jun 22, 2016 at 7:18

1 Answer 1


There is no standard for this, but if a city offers its own recycling pickup or works with a small number of pickup companies, it would be simple to track recycling pickup quantities and consider that to be the diversion rate as a percentage of regular waste pickup.

Otherwise, the city could simply measure the reduction in waste pickup compared to projections and consider that the diversion rate. It is probably best to ask your municipality directly since there is no standard system of doing this.

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