4. Reduced Community Impact
Recycling on a local level offers the chance to make a big picture difference.
Many materials such as plastic bottles and aluminum are 100 percent recyclable, but unless they get collected, their potential is being trashed. Recycling significantly reduces the amount of materials that end up in our waste stream, which means less waste is landing in landfills or getting incinerated.
The processing and manufacturing of recyclables allows companies to reduce their reliance on virgin materials. Virgin materials are usually mined and processed, which requires energy and can pollute the surrounding environment. According to the EPA, producing new plastic from recycled material uses only two-thirds of the energy required to manufacture it from raw materials.
Recovered materials are a cost effective solution that helps close the loop in the recycling process. They reduce carbon emissions and save energy, water and other natural resources in abundance
When a community collectively reduces its impact on the environment, it is setting an example for other communities on a national or even global level.
5. Community Outreach/Involvement
In some cases, national partnerships are developed to assist local recycling initiatives, such as the recently announced partnership between the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) and the Curbside Value Partnership (CVP). By coming together, both organizations will be involved in assisting local communities in developing their curbside recycling programs.
A study recently released by the National Association for PET Container Resources shows that as of 2010, plastic bottles were the most commonly recycled material collected in curbside collection programs nationwide, and are recycled at a rate of about 29 percent – a number IBWA hopes to see grow.
“The partnership with CVP presents an opportunity to beef up recycling rates for our packaging as well as other kinds through consumer education,” said Daniel Felton, the Vice President of Government Relations for IBWA. “And CVP has a fantastic track record.”
Baton Rouge, La. saw a 35 percent jump in recycling collection in 2006 when it switched to single-stream recycling and provided residents with larger carts. However, that fell short of the mayor’s goal of increasing recycling tonnage by 50 percent. In 2007, Baton Rouge partnered with CVP to develop a campaign with consistent visuals and messaging linking recycling to pride in the city. The successful campaign has helped Baton Rouge surpass its goal of a 50 percent recycling increase.
CVP has helped launch at least 23 community recycling programs and has measured an average increase in recycling of 23 percent and an 18 percent increase in participation among them. Although, through its work, CVP has learned an important lesson to apply: no two communities are alike.
IBWA agrees suggesting this notion applies in many contexts.
“It can be politically relative, economically relative,” said Felton. “Is the community willing and able to participate? Is it rural or urban? Is the population high?”
There are plenty of factors to consider that make communities unique. However when people come together to achieve a common goal it can help create attributes that any community would find valuable. Implementing local recycling solutions can help communities develop communication, motivate local participation and help develop valuable partnerships on a local level.
Editor’s Note: Earth911 partners with many industries, manufacturers and organizations to support its Recycling Directory, the largest in the nation, which is provided to consumers at no cost. IBWA is one of these partners.