Mecklenburg County Land Use and Environmental Services Agency (LUESA) is an umbrella organization providing many key services. LUESA works in partnership with the community to enhance the quality of life through environmental stewardship and economic vitality. Solid waste services are a part of this and include landfill operations, recycling, waste reduction, and litter prevention.

Mecklenburg County is committed to reducing landfilled waste every year by implementing environmentally responsible practices to protect and preserve the environment and natural resources. Prior to the County transitioning to single-stream recycling in 2010, a recycling container participation and set-out rate study for all seven municipalities in the County was conducted to measure direct curbside recycling behavior.


The County was seeking to conduct a similar study including a visual curbside container set-out rate study for both recycling and household waste containers for each municipality to compare community behavior before and after the transition to single-stream. In addition, the County was seeking to complete a detailed survey of each municipality answering questions from a representative sample of residents related to satisfaction, participation, receptiveness, knowledge/awareness, effects, preferences, and behavior as it relates to current and desired recycling and waste collection practices.


RRS developed a plan for logistics, data gathering, execution, and data analysis to provide a full scope of services to the County for the completion of a set-out rate study and phone survey.

Set-Out Rate Study

RouteEagle set-out rate study mobile app screen shotRRS designed and executed the set-out rate study conducted in the towns of Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville, Matthews, Mint Hill, and Pineville. RRS established the study logistics, coordinated a field staff of local temp workers, developed a project-specific app, overcame unique challenges presented by differing collection schedules, and completed the work in the identified timeline.

  • Our team collaborated with towns and contract waste haulers to determine sample sizes, routes and logistics, and data collection methodology.
  • RRS developed a user friendly iPad app to record set-outs allowing for off-site data review and route analysis, visual route verification using GPS coordinates and time data, and operational notes.
  • Every town conducted garbage collection weekly and recycling collection every other week. Over a four week period each sample route was observed four times, twice during the “non-recycling” week and twice during “recycling” week.
  • Field staff were assigned specific routes, sampling at least 15% of households in each town. Recycling and trash cart set out (at the curb) was observed while following the garbage route.
  • RRS also matched trash and recycling tonnage data with the specific trucks from the observed collection routes to gather corresponding information.

Survey of Residents

RRS partnered with Myers Research & Strategic Services, LLC to design and execute phone surveys that covered critical topics including participation, where residents go for information, material recycled, barriers to recycling and preferences related to incentives and enforcement. The team then analyzed the data and pulled out trends and meaningful information.


RRS gathered an impressive amount of data and was able to share the information in a user-friendly, graphic-rich slide presentation for the County’s recycling staff and decision makers.

Data points, such as maps generated from GPS tracking, and operational notes from the customized iPad app were key to verifying our field observations and providing more depth to the study results.

Comparison of the telephone survey and set-out rate study analysis, along with a final report, provided information that Mecklenburg County could use to provide targeted outreach, as well as assist in program planning and improvements for various policy, operational and incentive approaches.

Meck Co Set-Out Rate Results Pic

Read more about RRS RouteEagle, set-out rate study utilizing mobile app and expert analysis: RouteEagle