3. In Your Community
Why It Matters
87 percent of Americans have access to curbside or drop-off recycling for paper, which is great if people utilize those options. Just think about all the paper that goes through your home; cereal boxes, cardboard, newspaper, junk mail and packaging. In 2010, the New York Times reported that Americans ate 31 percent more packaged food than fresh food, and some of that packaging is composed of paper. Knowing which paper products can go in your curbside bin is important because putting non-recyclable paper in the bin can cause problems for recycling centers and putting recyclable paper in the trash needlessly fills up landfill space.
Steps to Take
Details about starting or adjusting a recycling program in your community can be found in AF&PA’s Community Recycling Guide, but here are the basics:
- Learn What Residents Know – One of the biggest challenges of community recycling is communication, so a brief survey about what residents know and are doing to recycle is a good place to start.
- Talk with Professionals – Your waste hauler will likely be able to provide information about pick up and transport services for paper. Ask about how recyclables will need to be prepared. Discuss recycling bins and containers.
- Communicate – Tell everyone the plan. Use email, newsletters, social media and fliers to explain to residents what they need to do. Using clear language and visuals can help simplify the recycling process.
- Correct Mistakes – In a community with many people, mistakes are bound to happen. Correspond with your recycler and remind residents of procedures.
- Keep Residents and Community Members Updated – Providing positive feedback that allows people to see how their behavior is making a difference will help ensure the long-term success of the program.
In a community setting, the biggest obstacle you will face is getting your recycling message out and making sure residents recycle correctly. You will not have a captive audience the way you might at an office or in a school, so spend extra time reaching out with fliers and through any media outlets available to you. In a large community, you may also need to target your message to a variety of people such as senior citizens or people for whom English is a second language, AF&PA explains. You might also need to find out if there are any specific community members you need to speak with about a recycling program such as homeowners associations or local government.
If you’d like to enter your community in AF&PA’s annual paper recycling competition, visit their website.
Looking for more recycling tips? Read: 5 Steps to Pitch an Apartment or Neighborhood Recycling Program
Feature image courtesy of Samuel Mann