California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) 

Diversion Study Guide

Conducting a Diversion Study: Diversion Study Guide

Prepare quality control procedures

The following steps also must be taken before the diversion data is collected to ensure that the results can be analyzed and will be meaningful:

  • Design and thoroughly document the diversion study so the data can be independently verified or duplicated.
  • Ensure that the data terms and categories are consistent with AB 939 statutory and regulatory definitions.
  • Pretest all survey and audit forms for clarity, ease of use, and accurate data entry on a small representative sample of respondents.
  • Use the pretest results to fully try out the proposed data analysis method and the interpretation and reporting of final totals.
  • Put the data in a format that can be analyzed, compiled, and/or extrapolated. Building in methods to crosscheck data and results may incur additional expense, but it adds to the technical defensibility of the overall study.

Training in diversion survey procedures and various quantification methods is highly recommended. The CalRecycle has training manuals for conducting waste audits.

These steps may seem to create unnecessary work; however, if you overlook processing errors at the design stage, the entire data collection may be inaccurate.

Contact service providers

To gain support from service providers, obtain a letter from the mayor or county supervisor(s) in advance. Included in the letter should be an explanation that the specific diversion information will be kept confidential and the data will be aggregated. Some jurisdictions require service providers to provide regular reports on their diversion efforts.

The California Department of Conservation’s Division of Recycling administers the California Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Act. The division compiles and provides aggregate volume information on beverage containers covered under the act. To request volume information from certified curbside, buyback and drop-off programs, contact:

Department of Conservation
Division of Recycling
Client Services Section
801 K Street, MS 15-54
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 327-7361
Fax: (916) 323-4907

A letter template is provided for your convenience (Appendix G). Please note that all requests (even those of consultants working on behalf of local government) must be printed on official jurisdiction letterhead.

Collect data from generators

When conducting the surveys of non-residential sector generators, it is important to verify the actual data used to select generator (e.g., the number of employees), as the business license data may not be 100 percent accurate.

Identification of the appropriate person to supply data for the generator is essential. Enough background information should be obtained to determine whether the data is being collected from a source having access to the information needed. Determining whether an appointment or cold call is most appropriate will depend on the size and type of business. For smaller businesses, typically a walk-up cold call is sufficient. However, it is also important to keep in mind that certain businesses will be busy at certain parts of the day. For example, a good time to approach a restaurant manager is in the late afternoon after the lunch rush and before the dinner crowd. Appointments are necessary for larger businesses that may need to schedule staff time to participate in the survey. For example, hotels have various departments that could provide information for the surveys.

To gain business support and participation, a letter from the mayor or county supervisor(s) can be presented to the business with the surveyor’s business card. The letter can explain the purpose of the survey, the value of the business in participating, and the confidentiality of the survey (Appendix F).

When conducting the audits, it is helpful to bring information about the diversion programs and services of your jurisdiction.  Include the CalRecycle’s Waste Reduction Awards Program (WRAP) applications and other technical assistance materials the business might find useful. CalRecycle has many fact sheets that are available at no cost. For more information, see the CalRecycle Business Waste Reduction Web site.

Here are a few tips for gaining business support:

  • Explain to the businesses that their business name will be kept confidential
  • Explain how their efforts are helping the community reach its diversion goal
  • Provide them with information about WRAP and how they can apply for recognition

Mandating data disclosure

Another way to collect information is for a jurisdiction to require local businesses to disclose their diversion data. For example, the City of Commerce has an ongoing data collection program that is tied to the renewal of the commercial business license. Alameda County and the City of Oakland use another variation: they require construction and demolition waste diversion reporting as a condition for issuance of a building permit.

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Last updated: March 19, 2000
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