Last updated on April 4th, 2018
Recycling is one of the best ways to reduce human footprint on Earth. Below you can find eight simple tips to increase recycling in your area.
According to the waste management hierarchy recycling is regarded as a more preferred management option compared to energy recovery and disposal in landfills. Apart from that recycling:
- Preserves natural resources since materials return to the supply chain. In that way the need for raw materials diminishes.
- Saves energy, since manufacture from recycled materials consumes much less energy compared to that of making products from raw materials.
- Saves valuable landfill space, since in most cases these materials would end up to a landfill.
- Reduces pollution by preventing uncontrolled release of harmful chemicals and green house gases, especially from disposal in landfills.
- Can reduce expenditure, since products made of recycled materials cost less than those made of raw materials.
Waste quantities keep increasing driven by population growth and the consumption pattern changes imposed by modern lifestyle.
So, it has become more than necessary to follow these tips to increase recycling and focus on it, in an effort to counterbalance, if not to avoid, the impacts that waste generation increase may have.
Use the recycling center locator to spot your nearest recycling center and the materials it accepts.
#1 Increase number of recycling bins
Recyclables keep increasing their share in the municipal waste stream, substituting mostly organic waste.
The number of recycling bins depends on several parameters, including among others the population served per bin, the waste generation rates, the share of recyclables in the waste stream and the collection frequency.
Experience has shown that placement of a recycling bin next to a “mixed waste bin” encourages people to participate in recycling programs.
Installation of recycling bins in parks, sidewalks or transit stops is highly recommended.
What is more, a dense recycling bin network (e.g. one bin every 50m) is more efficient compared to a sparse one.
It is noted however that recycling authorities should not exaggerate with the number of bins, since this may have the opposite results, but to ensure that all bins are easily accessed and appropriately labeled.
#2 Reduce the number of residual waste bins
Having set in place the appropriate number of recycling bins, it is time to reduce the number of bins for mixed waste.
In that way users will be guided to reduce the amount of waste ending up to the commingled waste bin and divert more materials to the recycling bin.
This step should be combined with tip #1 and be implemented gradually according to the recycling performance of the public. Otherwise, it may lead to the collapse of the recycling system.
A prerequisite for the successful implementation of this measure is the constant monitoring of the overall waste collection system’s performance, including both mixed and recyclable waste.
#3 Communicate the recycling program and call for participation
Primary target of recycling communication campaigns is to inform the public about the materials accepted by the program and the benefits that recycling has (i.e. environmental, financial, social, etc.). In that way it becomes easier to call public for participation.
Furthermore, recycling campaigns allow authorities to communicate the materials they target as well as the goals they have set and are seeking participation to achieve them.
In such a way both the quantity and the purity of recyclables increase.
Undoubtedly, social media and the Internet are valuable tools that every recycling system should take advantage of to communicate with public, provide contact information, answer to questions, etc.
#4 Target Schools
Children are the citizens of tomorrow. Therefore it is of paramount importance to involve schools in recycling programs.
This can be easily done by calling all schools of a region to participate to a recycling contest. The winner might receive a symbolic trophy which will hold until the next year, when a new winner will be announced.
In that way not only recycling performance will improve, but children will become more environmentally aware and conscious.
A similar approach may be followed with other groups of young people, i.e. scouts, athletic clubs, etc.
#5 Provide incentives for waste prevention, reuse and recycling
Despite being more preferred to energy recovery and disposal, recycling is the third option in line in the waste management hierarchy after prevention and reuse.
Waste prevention is not much related to waste management but to consumption habits. Typically, if someone consumes less he will produce less waste. However, this has also to do with the design of products, the materials used and the way of manufacture.
On the contrary reuse has to do with the consumers, since they can choose products that can be reused several times prior being recycled.
In fact, reuse is much better than recycling since no material reprocess takes place before the reuse of the product.
In an effort to incentivize residents to prevent waste generation, to reuse and recycle more, local authorities can charge an extra fee to dispose recyclables in the mixed waste bin.
What is more, application of this action needs to be combined with some of the actions proposed below, such as tips 6 and 7.
#6 Apply Pay As You Throw (PAYT) or Volume Based disposal schemes
In most places of the world citizens pay a lump sum for waste services according to the size of the house they live in, no matter how much waste they produce or they how they “deal” with it, i.e. sorting, recycling, etc.
This happens mostly because of the indifference of people about where does the waste they produce end up.
Application of PAYT and volume based systems across the world has proved that not only recycling rates and purity of streams increase but also both parties (authorities and citizens) benefit financially.
Notice however that in order implementation of such systems to be successful, it requires both strong communication campaigns and time for people to get used of the “change”. So don’t get disappointed very early since it might need months or years to achieve good results.
#7 Promote donation/resale of stuff no longer needed
This tip aims at preventing waste generation. Consumerism leads us at renewing quite often our home appliances, clothes, furniture, etc. In most cases, without being defective, these “unnecessary” objects end up in the waste bin and consequently to the landfill.
However, one man’s trash may prove a treasure for someone other. Therefore, recycling authorities should promote donation of such objects to socially vulnerable groups or to charities.
It would also be quite beneficial to recycle and waste prevention to host once or twice a year a local bazaar where people would resell their “unnecessary” materials in symbolic prices. Such bazaar may take place also as a side event to an already established fest or local event.
#8 Establish more drop off facilities for special streams
Special household waste streams such as bulky waste (i.e. furniture, etc.), WEEE (fridge, etc.) and Household Hazardous household waste (paints, chemicals, etc.) are a constant challenge for recycling authorities.
In many cases people lack information about the necessary treatment or recycling potential of such materials.
Establishment and increase of drop off facilities for such streams not only increases quantitative the recycling performance of a given area but hinders also the impacts from their inadequate management.
To ensure appropriate implementation of this action, the facilities need to be appropriately labeled and easily accessible. In parallel, monitoring should take place to keep track of how these facilities perform and meet community demand.
Fire and police stations parking lots are considered appropriate locations to install the necessary collection bins.
Follow these “8 tips to increase recycling in your area” and you should see great difference. Consider of making compost at home, which is very easy and really helpful for the environment.