Norman utility customers received an extra piece of paper with their statements this billing cycle. They are being surveyed about recycling. The results will be used to help formulate future recycling policy within the city.

Currently, Norman's recycling efforts amount to three centers where residents can bring their recyclable materials. One of the survey questions asks residents how much would they be willing to pay for curbside recycling. USA Today newspaper says local governments are using financial incentives and penalties to try and energize the once booming recycling movement that seems to have moved off the environmental radar screen.

The economics of recycling work against it. It costs more to recycle than to dump at a landfill. Norman saves some landfill space through the recycling centers but curbside proponents believe that's just the beginning. Thousands of tons of material could be reclaimed if residents began thinking and acting green.

Nationwide, the newspaper reports, the amount of garbage collected for recycling is still on the increase. Last year, 58.4 million tons were diverted from landfills. That figures to 24 percent of the nation's waste stream, up from 20 percent in 2000 and 14 percent in 1990.

Efforts to promote recycling vary around the country. Some cities -- hoping to save money -- have done away with curbside efforts entirely. USA Today reports cities that use the carrot approach as opposed to the stick are more successful. Fort Worth, Tx., charges for garbage service based on the size of the can at the curb. Smaller cans mean folks are probably recycling more. A recycling auditor checks the bins and warns or tickets accordingly.

After Fort Worth started a pay by the can size system, the amount of material diverted from landfills went from 6 percent to 35 percent. The newspaper estimates it earns $1 million a year on the recycling and could make another $1 million if the reclaimed material were free of contaminants like syringes, diapers and food scraps.

This Week's Circulars