Estimating Demand for Business Recycling Services in Two Nebraska Cities

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Creating opportunities for business recycling is an important priority for the State of Nebraska and communities throughout the state. In particular, there is a need to expand opportunities in smaller communities that do not always have the infrastructure or markets for recycling found in the state’s largest cities such as Omaha and Lincoln. With this in mind, the following report, sponsored by WasteCap Nebraska and the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, uses a survey of businesses to evaluate business attitudes toward recycling, current recycling efforts, and the level of need and interest for recycling training and services in two mid-size Nebraska cities: Grand Island and Columbus.

Survey results, in general, tended to be very consistent from city to city. And, while survey results reflect the unique industrial make-up, existing recycling arrangements, and attitudes toward recycling found in each of the two case cities, the results also should be instructive about business attitudes and practices for recycling in other regions of the state, particularly in other mid-size Nebraska cities.

In Chapter 2 and 3 of this report, survey results are presented in aggregate and by type of industry. Results are based on a 55% survey response rate in Columbus and a 40% response rate in Grand Island, Nebraska. These are high response rates relative to the 20% to 30% response rates typically achieved in mail surveys. These high rates ensure the reliability of study results and also demonstrate significant interest among businesses on the topic of recycling.

The survey results did not differ in any clear and consistent way by type of industry, with the exception that manufacturers on average did tend to be more interested in and more likely to undertake recycling initiatives. The main differences found in the surveys instead arise between small businesses and large businesses. For example, only about one-third of small businesses find recycling and waste reduction to be important or very important versus more than half of large businesses. Large businesses also were much more likely to have a recycling or waste reduction program and recycled a wider variety of materials. Further, large businesses were much more likely to be willing to purchase equipment or pay for recycling services, though both small and large businesses were willing to devote man-hours to recycling efforts.


A Bureau of Business Research Report From the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Final Report Prepared for WasteCap Nebraska and The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality.