Simplifying Recycling Rules

PLASTIC. PAPER. GLASS. FOOD. CANS. COMPOST. LANDFILL. While most Americans try their hardest to be diligent about recycling, what to put where can be tricky. According to a recent article in The New York Post, more than half of all Americans are confused about recycling. According to the article, 62 percent of people surveyed worry that a lack of knowledge is causing them to recycle incorrectly. Do we recycle greasy pizza boxes? Is all plastic recyclable? Which bin gets styrofoam takeout containers? Can paper and plastic go in the same bin? Check out some thoughts on simplifying recycling rules below.

Recycling is failing

Here in L.A. and California in general, “recycling is failing,” explains Mitch Hedlund, executive director of the nonprofit Recycle Across America. For example, he says, “As a result of confusing labels on bins and highly contaminated recycling… China stopped buying recyclables from the U.S., which has significantly affected the recycling market in California [and the U.S.].”

Standardized labeling

Recycle Across America is dedicated to expediting environmental progress. Their plan?  To create the world’s only society-wide standardized labeling system for recycling bins. There is no longer the question of what to put where in places that use labels. Hedlund compares road signs to the problematic labels in the U.S.. “Imagine if every school, business, government office, airport, stadium, etc. had to design their own stop signs, speed limit signs and [general] road safety signs.” It would most likely lead to chaos on the roads. So it goes with recycling. Recycle Across America’s standardized labeling solution has proven to drastically increase recycling levels. They have also significantly reduced contamination. Do you think this will help in simplifying recycling rules?

Additionally, Recycle Across America launched “Let’s Recycle Right!®” in 2011, the first celebrity-led solution-driven PSA campaign which is still going strong today. In 2018, the “Dear Humans®” campaign, featuring sea life and animals, was added.

Celebrities weigh in

“Recycling benefits every facet of society from conserving the environment to improving the economy, but it only works when it’s done right,” says actress Kristen Bell. “Recycling is far too important to be confusing; it’s time to get it right.” Other celebrities, including Angie Harmon, Mark Ruffalo, Gabrielle Reece and Anthony Mackie, to name just a few, have also lent their names to the campaign over the years, says Hedlund. They also have helped the organization petition government leaders’ involvement in the aforementioned standardized label solution.

Even with labeling in place and celebrities encouraging the right recycling patterns, confusion remains. Hedlund’s advice: When in doubt, throw it out.

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