Case Studies & Best Practices

People are interested in recycling and want to do their part. Unfortunately, there’s a general lack of understanding and confusion about what should go into the curbside recycle bin.

That’s where residential cart audit projects come in.

Cities and counties across the country are implementing residential cart audit projects in partnership with the recycling industry. It’s a trend that continues to grow.

Leadpoint has completed several cart audit projects in support of the Recycling Partnership and other groups in Atlanta and communities in Michigan, Alabama, Texas, and California.  Our recycling industry knowledge and high-performance work team model make us a logical partner.

“We know first-hand what comes in and out of MRFs,” said Jeff Brewer, cart audit program manager at Leadpoint. “We also have a sophisticated recruiting system that allows us to hire, train, and pay cart audit teams efficiently and safely.”

The First Goal: Education

The first goal of Leadpoint’s cart audit teams is to ensure the crew is highly trained so they are equipped to educate those they come into contact with on the job.

Knowing what contaminants to look for in residential bins is just the beginning. The audit team members have to know the community well. They must work consistently and with rigor. They are also trained in resident interaction, police interaction, and driver interaction.

Residents are often concerned or suspicious when they see strangers looking into their recycling carts. They want to know what’s going on. The ability to remain calm, clearly explain the program and its benefits, and treat others with respect is key.

Sometimes, residents contact local law enforcement when they see people checking their bins. Leadpoint’s auditors have been trained in police interaction and are directed to comply with law enforcement when approached on the job.

“Every interaction is an opportunity to bridge the education gap and build confidence in the bin audit program,” Brewer said.

The Second Goal: Safety

Equally important to any cart audit program is the ability of the workforce to think like a driver, understand how hauling equipment operates, and learn the collection route and process. “Keeping our cart auditors safe is paramount,” Brewer said. “Working as a team with drivers and haulers is critical to safety and to a program’s success.”

Another point of safety contact happens at the MRF. “For example, we’ve seen propane tanks tossed in recycling bins,” Brewer said, “which can cause explosions and fires in a MRF.”

Other common safety culprits are plastic bags and electrical cords. “They get wrapped up in the sorting equipment and have to be manually removed,” Brewer said. Putting a person inside the sorting machinery is extremely hazardous and can shut down the plant for hours.”

Improving what goes into the cart helps reduce safety incidents for recycling plants and the people who work there.

The Third Goal: Reduce Landfill

Recycled material can be sold and converted into something new – that’s the whole concept of the recycling system. What residents don’t appreciate is that if the content in recycling cards isn’t clean, if it’s not appropriate, or if it’s not recyclable, sadly it’s dumped in the landfill.

“If cart content isn’t right at the curb, cities pay for the collection regardless,” Brewer said, “and landfills fill up more quickly, which nobody wants.”

“We do a lot of educating curb-side,” he said.

Lessons Learned

The most exciting lesson Leadpoint has learned from its work with cart audit programs is that they work. Education and interaction help people change their habits. In one case, the cart contamination rate dropped from 35% to 13% in just a few weeks.

“In general, people want to know what they are doing wrong and how to improve,” Brewer said. “They want to do the right thing.”

We’ve also learned that it takes labor – people – working 1:1 with residents to make an impact. Our cart audit work team members themselves have to be motivated to make a change and share that passion with residents.

“At Leadpoint, we’re driving innovation in cart audit projects,” Brewer said. “We are Grade A educators of our associates and the residents we encounter during our audit process.

“We’re looking forward to bringing our knowledge and experience to more markets in the future.”

About Leadpoint
Since 2000, Leadpoint has helped recycling companies make better decisions about how to maximize their workforce and improve the productivity, efficiency, and profitability of their operation. Leadpoint’s high-performance work team model and Operations Support as a Service (OSAAS) consulting enable site owners and managers to achieve a common goal: consistent production, cost containment, and high-quality, profitable output. Based in Phoenix, the company takes the chaos out of MRF operations and optimizes performance for recycling organizations nationwide.


Talk to Leadpoint about bringing their high-performance work team model to your cart audit program! Contact us at 888-205-1511 or online at


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