America’s Greenest Cities







Credit: U.S National Archives

So, how do cities in the United States stack up against the world’s best? Check this out…

Much of the globe has been hopping on the recycling bandwagon the last few years, and (though some may argue to the contrary) no one does it better than the Europeans. In fact, estimates that nine out of 10 German households separate their trash. Also, in Berlin, the capital city of Germany, there are seven different types of recycling bins, each serving a different type of recycling material: general waste, paper, compost, plastic/metal, amber glass, clear glass and green class.

Who knew we needed to recycle glass based on color!?

Furthermore, other European cities, such as Paris and Rome, have their own quirks when it comes to effective trash and recycling initiatives, which include seven-day-a-week trash and rubbish collection (except on religious holidays – of course!).

Naturally, the next step having looked at the state of recycling and trash management in Europe would be to look at which cities do the best job here in the good ol’ United States. Here in the States, where there are no laws that mandate recycling, many states have passed regulations that provide incentives for residents to recycle – including refunds and deposits on beverage containers. On the other hand, places like New York City and Seattle have enforced laws that fine those who throw away materials that could have been recycled.

And, it being only a matter of time before the newest statistics on the best recycling cities in America is released, there is no better time to look at’s review of who was doing it the best a year ago.

1. Fresno, California

Such is the uniqueness of Fresno’s recycling initiatives, the city doesn’t follow the conventional green container bins, but uses blue ones! These blue bins can be seen at the airport, as well as at convention centers.

2. Fremont, California

Fremont, on the other hand, has launched its own recycling center known as Fremont Recycling and Transfer Station or FRTS. During the previous year, the FRTS was able to collect 14,000 tons of recyclable material including paper that saved around 180,000 trees and plastic soda bottles for the creation of at least 68,000 fleece jackets.

3. San Antonio, Texas

This city had listed at least 18 centers offering recycling services to its people. Some of these centers are Great Northwest, ABC, Longhorn, Citywide Metal, Oncore Metal and Toucan. These recycling centers accept a wide array of recyclable materials including scrap, metal, plastics, batteries, radiators and cans.

4. Burlington, Vermont

The city of Burlington also had its fair share of recycling programs. It makes use of Vermont Gas Systems, one that depends upon natural gas. It also has the Green Mountain Power that serves the region’s electric utility needs. Trash disposal, composting and hazardous waste processing is also done in Chittenden Solid Waste District.

5. Anaheim, California

Anaheim’s Public Works Operations Division takes charge of bulk of the recycling services for the city. It introduced Recycle Anaheim, a concept that blended yard waste collection with that of automated trash collection.

6. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Just like Anaheim, Pittsburgh’s recycling programs are spearheaded by the Public Works Division particularly that of the Bureau of Environmental Services. The bureau takes charge of providing a curbside trash collection for its locals and for non-profit institutions. Drop-off services are also provided for small businesses.

7. Jacksonville, Florida

Jacksonville also implements curbside recycling for residents and business institutions found in the area.

8. San Diego, California

San Diego classifies its recycling services into a variety of offerings – for residents; for construction and demolition; for businesses; and for schools. It also has recycling programs for special events. Citizens are asked to follow these rules as they have been enacted by the local government. Some residential recycling concerns are mulch, compost, yard waste and wood chips.

9. Madison, Wisconsin

Madison incorporated the latest trends when it comes to recycling. It has the so-called yearly Recyclopedia and launched the “Join Waste Watchers” program. Madison also sees to it that Christmas trees are collected every year and starts its construction and demolition recycling as early as January 1.

10. Durham, North Carolina

Closing the top 10 list for best cities for recycling is Durham, North Carolina. It also emphasizes on curbside recycling efforts. First, it makes sure that papers are not mixed with napkins or paper plates. As for newspapers, they can only be recycled if they are still dry plus these items should not be tied with plastic ropes and should be free from animal waste, paint or food. It also has separate rules for recycling of junk mail, paperboard, aseptic containers, gable-top containers, glass bottles, plastic bottles, aluminum, tin-cans, six-pack rings, telephone books and rigid plastics.

– By Kane Carpenter