Global municipal solid waste is expected to double by 2025, and one reason for that rise is the recycling crisis.
Even though Americans have been recycling since the 1970s, not all have been doing it properly. Because different recycling plants allow different items to be recycled in different cities and states across the nation, Americans have had a difficult time deciphering exactly what can and can’t be recycled at each bin they pass.
As a result, the nation’s recycling stream continues to be contaminated with unrecyclable items such as diapers and food products, crippling recycling economics. The process to remove contamination reduces profitability, driving up the cost of recyclables, which in turn prevents manufacturers from reusing recycled materials. The result: recycling plants close. The largest recycling hauler in the U.S. closed 25 percent of its recycling plants in recent years, and the state of California—known for its progressive recycling efforts—already shut down more than 450 recycling plants this year.
While the outlook for the industry is bleak, Recycle Across America, a nonprofit organization, is finding that the simple solution of creating consistent labels and messaging on recycling bins can help the problem. The more Americans know exactly what to recycle, the less likely they are to contaminate the recycling stream. Events, schools, businesses, cities and even the entire state of Rhode Island have begun using labels with impressive results. The University of Denver, for example, reported a 90 percent improvement in recycling after adding labels to its recycle bins a couple years ago.
Meeting planners can use the labels at events, customizing them to fit their specific event’s recycling needs. The stick-on labels come in a variety of sizes and shapes, making them easy to add to any and all recycling bins. For planners who want to learn more about Recycle Across America and how their event can help the recycling crisis, learn more at the nonprofit’s website.