The Waste Reduction and Recycling Program develops and implements reuse, recycling and environmentally friendly purchasing programs throughout the Health District. Staff also conducts public education campaigns geared towards waste reduction and recycling. In addition, they will assist local businesses in waste audits and program development for recycling in the work place. Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions about waste reduction and recycling.

Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful (KTMB) Recycling Resources -
City of Reno Single-Stream Recycling Program - Learn more about Reno's recycling program
Battery Recycling (lithium ion batteries) - Learn where to drop off
Commercial Recycling -

Many businesses and industries are interested in recycling as part of their sustainability efforts. In Washoe County, commercial recycling is strongly encouraged and can be achieved. Get more information from the Commercial Recycling FAQ.

Waste Characterization Study -

In December 2016, Northern Nevada Public Health updated the Washoe County Solid Waste Management Plan, as is required every five years, per Nevada Revised Statute (NRS) 444.510.  The plan details the current status of solid waste management in Washoe County, describes disposal and recycling trends and serves as a community-wide needs assessment for services and programs to help guide the advancement of the solid waste management system.

One chapter objective in the plan is to conduct a waste stream composition study to determine what Washoe County residents and businesses are disposing of, which could be recycled or diverted from landfilling. These studies are conducted by contractors who go to either landfills or transfer stations and take samples of the Municipal Solid Waste stream to find out what people are disposing of in their regular garbage, instead of recycling. 

Northern Nevada Public Health received approval from the Washoe County District Board of Health and the Washoe County Board of County Commissioners to hire a qualified consultant to provide a Waste Characterization Study, highlighting the impact of existing recycling programs and identifying opportunities to increase waste diversion.  Three proposals were submitted by contractors to perform the Study and were reviewed by Northern Nevada Public Health staff and members of the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection.  Sloan Vazquez McAfee was awarded the contract and they have provided a report that scientifically provides useful and statistically valid data on the composition of residential, commercial, and self-hauled waste disposed at the Washoe County Transfer Stations. The report will be used to guide Northern Nevada Public Health with planning, policy development, and resource allocations.  This study would be the first such study conducted, of this magnitude, for this area and would establish a baseline for future studies, quantify the impacts of existing recycling programs, identify opportunities to increase waste diversion and help provide data to the Solid Waste Management Authority to guide decisions with planning, policy and resource allocation, in addition to providing this agency with information to provide to consumers on ways they can reduce the amount of waste that is sent to the regional landfill.

Click here for:  Waste Characterization Report and Waste Characterization Presentation

Other Publication Available -


Prepared for
The Northern Nevada Public Health
Environmental Health Services

Presented by
Lee Bryant, REHS, MPH
Emily Brown, MPH

January 27, 2012

I. Introduction

Curbside recycling is offered to all Washoe County residents who have residential service though the local franchised garbage and recycling hauler, Waste Management of Nevada, Inc. (hereafter called Waste Management)1. While garbage service is a mandatory service, curbside recycling is optional and only 40% of residential customers participate1. There is also low utilization of local drop-off recycling centers, which are usually the only recycling outlets for residents living in multi-family dwellings, condominiums or other non-single family dwellings. Though Northern Nevada Public Health (NNPH) does not directly provide recycling services, they do regulate the local recycling industry including Waste Management. NNPH is also trying to fulfill a Washoe County target recycling target rate of 35% by 2015; the 2010 Washoe County recycling rate was only 27%, down from 30% the previous year1. Increasing curbside recycling participation and utilization of local drop-off facilities have been identified by NNPH staff as a means to help meet the 35% target recycling rate.

As with any human behavior, recycling behavior is determined by a complex set of factors including home ownership, geographical location, perception of benefit and level of knowledge1,2. In order for the NNPH to increase county-wide recycling, future educational materials and outreach programs need to be tailored to the community’s specific needs and beliefs regarding recycling. Facilitated focus groups are group interviews and are very effective qualitative data collection tools for understanding the motivations, beliefs and barriers of a specific group of people or populations2. To develop a better understanding of the recycling behaviors (or lack thereof), a series of 14 focus groups were completed between October 15 and December 15, 2011 with the residents of Washoe County by Ms. Lee Bryant, NNPH, and Ms. Emily Brown. This report outlines the findings of this effort and states specific recommendations based on the responses of the participants. ...

To receive a copy of the full report, please contact the Solid Waste Management Program.

1Salgado, L. (2011). Washoe County Solid Waste Management Plan.
2Wholey, J., Harty, H. & Newcomer, K. (2010). Handbook of Practical Program Evaluation, 3rd edition.

Last modified on 08/15/2023