When the city of Oklahoma City's curbside recycling program stalled, city leaders injected a prize factor into the operation. They wanted to generate a higher level of participation among city households.

It worked. Participation picked up and more of the city's recyclable waste stream is being diverted from landfills.

Norman, now in our fourth month of operation, needs a similar contest. Residents are charged $3 a household per month. Our participation began at about 50 percent the first month and dropped to 42 percent the second month. May's numbers are not in yet but a casual drive around the city shows the excitement has definitely waned.

In the first month, more than 292 tons were recycled. The second month's take was 267 tons. It reduces the amount we pay to have put in a landfill but the cost-benefit could be higher with greater participation.

How about a prize for individual households or collectively for neighborhoods which increase their participation. It was a novelty the first few weeks of the service and many homes gave it a try.

But now that we're into the summer months, we sense the novelty wearing off. We'd like to see the city sponsor a contest to restore some interest. We suggested one to dress up the recycling containers but we're not sure the individuals own them.

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