Whether Nevada communities are required to offer curbside recycling and hazardous household waste programs depends on how many people live there.
Carson City used to have to offer it, but after the requirements were changed by state legislators that would have allowed the city to stop providing pickups, it continued anyway.
In 2005, roughly 44 percent of Carson City residents' waste was recycled. The city is preparing its count for 2006 and expects to have it complete by the end of the month.
Other communities in the West of comparable size do things differently.
Casper, Wyo., isn't required to provide a recycling program but has for more than a decade. There is no curbside service, but several bins around the area allow people to drop off newsprint, magazines, white and light colored office paper, glass and aluminum.
They don't take plastics. Larger items can be brought to the community's landfill, including household appliances and yard waste.
One problem with the system, however, is monitoring what is put into the bins, according to the city.
"During hunting season, people throw animal carcasses in them," said Jolene Martinez, public service department analyst for Casper. "It ruins everything inside."
The carcasses are considered a biohazard, as is medical waste, and can't be thrown out with regular trash or recyclables.
Wyoming is working to improve the recycling rate of its residents, which is 5 percent total. Only 500,000 people live in the entire state, and Casper has the second largest population with nearly 50,000 people in 2000, according to the U.S. Census.
"We'll be establishing a goal soon for the rate of recyclables," said Bob Doctor, a program manager for Wyoming's department of environmental quality. "Right now it's a voluntary thing, and there are no reporting requirements."
Also important in making the process easier for cities is to encourage cooperative efforts among small neighboring communities. This would lower costs for recycling centers and other waste efforts, he said.
• Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber @nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111, ext. 215.