I came across an article by Waste Management of Southern California that offered their customers tips for improving recycling effectiveness. California has long been a leader in U.S. recycling efforts and is far ahead of most all other states. In fact, the state has a mandate to achieve 75% of all products being diverted away from landfills and into recycling. Having lived there, I know… and experienced the cost of deposits on bottles or aluminum canned products and the separate containers for various types of recycled items such as glass, plastic, paper etc. In fact, I was quite shocked when I moved to Tennessee to find that there was no recycling at all in the town I relocated to—though they have since introduced a limited recycling program.
So why are recycling programs not a ‘way of life’ for Americans everywhere? Well, two reasons: money and awareness/commitment. The money aspect falls primarily on the waste collection companies. most of these companies had landfills that they carried away trash to be compacted and buried. Said differently, local governmental intervention has usually been the only reason for their involvement in recycling. Couple this with an ongoing cyclical rise and fall in demand/price for recycled products like cardboard, plastic and aluminum, and the profitability of recycling programs has often been marginal at best. And when companies can’t show a profit for an initiative, they tend to eliminate them or reduce resources spent on them…thus less training, less staff and overall less effective programs.
The second part involves consumer awareness and commitment. Many people simply turn a blind eye to the environmental impacts of pollution….while they simultaneously enjoy the benefits of what the environment provides them in terms of food, water and products made from the earth’s raw materials. However, the trend is changing, particularly among the younger generation. They are more aware of sustainability concepts and want to contribute to environmental cleanup efforts like recycling. Yet even among these ‘environmental adopters’ there is a lost efficiency in the form of commitment and awareness. Many are simply not aware of the proper way to process products to be recycled; this is in part due to the low level of resources dedicated by the waste management companies for staff and customer training. Soiled paper, for example can ruin an entire bag of recycled products and result in the bag going to a landfill instead of to recycling facilities.
So continual training and reminders is NECESSARY to ensure efficient and effective recycling programs.
Here are the 3 key recommendations for home owner associations and businesses who want to ensure effective recycling programs (from Waste Management of Southern California):
1. Assign & Empower: Identify an on-site recycling champion who will take ownership of recycling efforts and help motivate others.
2. Learn & Set Up: Review the acceptable items as well as the do’s and don’ts of recycling with your champion to ensure sustainable practices are met. Place recycling containers in common areas, such as meeting and break rooms as well as recreation rooms and outdoor areas. Visit www.rorr.com to download helpful recycling tools specific for business and apartment complexes to share with your employees or tenants.
Recycle empty plastic bottles, cans, paper and cardboard, keep food and liquids out of recycling and always place recyclables loose inside containers. Remember to always breakdown cardboard boxes to make room for all your recyclables.
Place plastic wrap, hoses, rope, bulky items, scrap metal or hazardous materials such as batteries in your recycling.
3. Engage & Sustain: Hold frequent meetings to promote your program as well as award those employees or tenants who have continuously done their part to stay compliant by recycling the right way.
Will you be a leader in recycling efforts??
#recycle #sustainability #makerecyclingwork #pollutioncleanup #nomorelandfills