When recycling plans don't work? It's often because people just don't know where to put stuff.
Having a recycling plan and a bunch of bins to execute it with is one thing. But actually getting people to recycle properly? It takes some work. The wrong stuff goes in the wrong bin, people are constantly asking if paper and plastics can go in the same place — and there's confusion about which kind of plastic can be recycled. It happens all the time.
But having people know what can be recycled is crucially important. A misplaced plastic bag could disrupt recycling machinery if it gets through to the wrong place — and it'll undo all the good you’ve done by making the effort to recycle in the first place.
These accidents aren’t malicious, and they’re generally not even just laziness. It comes down to a lack of communication and education, and well-meaning people trying their best but not knowing where to recycle what. Sometimes, even the most dedicated recycler can get it wrong if they’re working off an outdated set of rules — maybe they just moved to a new facility and what worked at the old one no longer applies.
So, let’s talk about how to use a multichannel approach to recycling education and improve those numbers.
Get Some Good Recycling Signage
The most obvious step you can take is with recycling signage. Whatever else you do, you want it to be clear, at the point of recycling, what goes in which bin. If you don’t, stuff will absolutely end up in the wrong place as busy people make quick decisions they don’t have the time to check.
But if you’ve got a nice comprehensive sign on or near the bins that lays out which bin to use for which materials, people will be able to glance up, confirm their decision, and drop off those bags in the correct bin.
You can also put simple signage up at the smaller bins inside your facilities too so that the right stuff gets in those bags in the first place.
Run Training Sessions
If you’re noticing that there are some common mistakes happening, it’s not a bad idea to run a training session that addresses these and recycling generally.
Showing people visually where particular things should go, and taking questions, will give people a chance to get answers to all the cases that make them uncertain or confused. It’ll help clear up a lot of mistakes, and you’ll know that everyone got the information.
An App Can Answer Those Questions Anytime!
We’ve developed an app to make recycling easier (check it out here). Among other things, the app serves as a handy quick guide to recycling people can use any time.
Specifically synced with what your particular facility can recycle versus what remains garbage, you can search a huge database of items and get the answer to where you should put whatever's in your hands.
Paper napkins? Ceramics? Chip bags versus plastic bags? Start typing your thing, get the answer, and throw it in the right bin. No need to guess. No need to call someone. Just answers.
Stay on Top of Your Recycling
With the huge variety in all the things any given facility needs to sort through in their waste management, everyone’s going to forget about something sometime. New staff members will join and need to get up to speed. And recycling facilities themselves change — and may allow for additional recycling opportunities.
Use this multichannel approach and you’ll see a much better result in your waste diversion percentage. Want to get that app yourself — and find out what else we can do? Learn more with our case studies.