The Trash Blog

Recycle Nation


Thanks for sending along your follow-up questions to Susan Parsons. Susan shared the list of questions with me and we gathered responses from the folks in our recycling department. Please feel free to follow up with me if you have further questions. I’ll be on a brief trip the remainder of the week, but will be checking my email. Thanks again for your keen interest in these very important issues. – Larry

An image from Keep America Beautiful's new 'I want to be recycled' campaign.

An image from Keep America Beautiful’s new ‘I want to be recycled’ campaign.

“One of KAB’s primary stated goals is “waste reduction and recycling.”  While we most often talk about recycling – because, frankly, that is the term that most individuals best understand whether it is reduce, reuse or recycling – we find that, most often, that distinction in terminology is not made in the minds of individuals as clearly as it is articulated in the waste hierarchy.  We actively share examples of and continue to seek ways to advocate for reducing waste generation.  For example, we had a four-week social media campaign around America Recycles Day.  Each week was designated for sharing tips on:  Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Buy Recycled.

Some artwork I prepared

Taking their lead, I tried to think of some waste sentiments that I felt were a little more accurate.

“Why did we make “recycling” the focus of the current, first-of-its kind national public service campaign? As an educational nonprofit interested in behavior change, the best opportunity to have an impact on reaching and motivating individuals is to do something that they understand – thus, the focus on recycling was chosen.  Survey after survey indicates that recycling is the primary environmental action individuals most associate with in terms of actions they can take. Again, based on feedback from individuals we work with – they can be reducing waste generation, but still call it recycling.

Another image from KAB's 'I want to be recycled' campaign.

Another image from KAB’s ‘I want to be recycled’ campaign.

“Again, as noted above, we work to incorporate waste reduction throughout our programs.  Great America Cleanup has aspects – clothing collections that are donated for reuse, electronics collection – that have refurbishing and reuse elements.  America Recycles Day includes  a “stop unwanted mail” component.  There are just a few examples.

An image of my own design.

An image of my own design.

“Keep America Beautiful believes that every consumer makes two important choices that affect the amount of waste in America: 1) What products we choose to buy or use, and 2) How we choose to dispose of the product when finished with it.

“At the point of purchase or use, consumers have the opportunity to consider a product, its packaging, how it is constructed, whether it can be reused or recycled, and whether it is made from recycled materials. By choosing recycled, recyclable or reusable products, we can extend the functional life of a product and divert it from the landfill.

Why not?

Realizing that bemoaning what has been done isn’t going to get us very far, I tried to think of some more realistic desires for recycled materials. Bikes and benches are nice, but, given the sheer quantity of recycled materials, roads, landfill cover material, and incinerator fuel are more likely destinations.

“Purchasing recycled products also helps by creating a market for the recycled material, “completing the loop.” Consumer demand is a powerful factor affecting the waste stream, and our decisions make a huge difference.

“Once a product has reached the end of its functional life, consumers decide how it will enter the waste stream. Reusing, recycling or composting waste materials is always the ideal option.

Or this?

And while we’re on the subject, think about what our friends the plastic bottles have been in previous lives…

“While we know many of our corporate partners are working on various aspects of reducing waste and designing systems to better manage reuse of resources – we applaud the many organizations that work with corporations in this area.  KAB’s focus since our inception has been on individuals and working with individuals to build, improve and sustain the public spaces/environmental aspects of their community. That is where we can have the most impact – both with the individual and businesses.

“There are many factors regarding products and packaging that go beyond just environmental considerations. For example, food safety comes to mind.  All of these factors need to be considered. The good news is that those partners/businesses that we work with are considering this issue – not only because economics are driving it but also because the public is expressing more concern about reducing, reusing and recycling.

Hey, even a soda can can dream!

“Keep America Beautiful believes that an effective product stewardship approach, with shared responsibility among all stakeholders, is an essential strategic element for achieving sustainable waste reduction and recycling goals.”

Larry Kaufman
Director, Communications |Keep America Beautiful

1010 Washington Blvd. | Stamford, CT 06901

This entry was written by Philip and published on February 10, 2014 at 3:29 pm. It’s filed under Advertising, Containers, Guest Post, Recycling and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

4 thoughts on “Recycle Nation

  1. Uncle Chris on said:

    Here is the question: Are you satisfied with this response?

  2. Pingback: Easy Come, Easy Recycle, Easy Go | The Trash Blog

  3. Pingback: Is Recycling Green Glass Good? | The Trash Blog

  4. Pingback: Recycling Feels Good | The Trash Blog

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