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Recycling Promotions to Increase Recycling Awareness

When rolling out or expanding an existing recycling initiative, awareness and education are keys to the success of the program.

Municipal public works departments, businesses, schools and universities, large apartment complexes, office parks, and office buildings all can make a big difference in getting more people to recycle.  

Most U.S. municipalities already have some sort of recycling program in place. However, education on program rules requires ongoing awareness campaigns. Many municipalities are adjusting programs due to the difficulty of glass recycling in single-stream programs and some are eliminating glass recycling altogether. Recycling bin contamination continues to be a problem and residents need to be educated to reduce contamination. At local schools or public works open house events, public works officials have a unique opportunity to educate young people in person on the benefits of recycling.

Recycled promotional products are a great way to bring awareness to any recycling campaign, new or old. Recycled tire products, recycled reusable water bottles, recycled newspaper or currency pencils, and recycled reusable bags all add unique synergies to recycling promotions. Reusable water bottles and reusable bags encourage people to stop using wasteful disposable plastic bottles as well as plastic grocery bags which are one of the biggest contaminants of recycling programs. While plastic bags can be recycled, they are generally not accepted in curbside programs, and when put in single-stream recycling containers, they can damage recycling equipment.

Schools, businesses and large apartment complexes can implement internal recycling programs within their buildings. As with municipal recycling programs, education is vital. Educate participants by developing educational materials that are consistent and simple. In common areas, such as lobbies, fitness centers, break rooms and kitchens, display a trash sign and a recycling sign with pictures of common disposable items near waste stations. The recycle sign should highlight paper waste that is recyclable as well as recyclables, most often used, such as soda cans and/or bottles, aluminum soup cans, and frozen meal packaging. On the trash sign, effective photos could be food waste, grease-stained packaging, and non-recyclable containers.

Besides effective marketing, there are many other environmentally friendly advantages of choosing recycled promotional products for your campaign. According to California's Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle), buying recycled products or products made from recycled materials reduces waste and pollution, conserves landfill space, creates jobs, and conserves energy.