It’s a new year which means new recycling goals to set.
Last year was one for the books for the public works department. You were already dealing with an ongoing climate crisis, worsening recycling rates, and dwindling recycling program budgets. Then another disaster struck – the novel coronavirus.
Now you face lost revenues, limited federal aid and ever-increasing operational expenses. While the pandemic continues to exacerbate existing budget issues and staff shortages, a lot can still be done to protect and preserve the environment. Creative solutions are what is needed in 2021.
Trash levels are rising from people staying at home. Until the vaccine negates the threat, something must be done to encourage residents to recycle more often – especially when it comes to the plastic items they’re throwing away every day. Plastic is a relentless scourge that is only getting worse.
So here are 5 creative ways to promote plastic recycling to your local community. Implementing some of these suggestions this year will help inspire residents to do their part in the fight against the struggles of the recycling system.
#1: Education About #1 and #2 Plastics
Residents assume that all plastics can be recycled, or that any plastic baring a number – along with recycling arrows – is recyclable. That’s just not true. One way to promote plastic recycling in the community is to educate residents on which plastics can be recycled.
Educational activities come in a variety of forms. These can be email or social media campaigns, they can be linked to a series of blog posts your municipality releases about the issue – they can even be part of a local television showcase. This year, get the word out about #1 and #1 plastic recycling.
#2: Targeted Residential Campaigns
No two municipalities are alike. Every town or city in North America faces unique challenges. Targeted residential campaigns zero in on these challenges and aim to fix them. Using new technology, residents are educated about an area of concern, which promotes mass change.
One example is the recent case study conducted by the City of Newark to reduce plastic bag recycling. Using Recycle Coaches education platform, residents were taught not to recycle single use plastic, and the result was an 82% reduction in plastic waste ending up in the recycling stream.
#3: Network Social Media Groups
Social media can be a force for positive change if you know how to use it. Right now, there are dozens of grassroots social media groups in your immediate area searching for ways to improve recycling, to be greener, and to make an impact on their local environment. Use them!
Reach out to smaller environmental groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram. Tell them about your plastic recycling drive, and ask them to help you spread the word. You will be amazed at how far the message will go just by getting micro-organizations involved on social media.
#4: Host a Virtual Community Event
Virtual community events have become commonplace since the coronavirus forced everyone indoors. The good news is that these events are usually attended by more people, because they are online. All you need is to get some community organizations to jump on board.
An online community event can be anything from a public webinar, a themed games afternoon, or talent show to a variety concert, a photobooth challenge or a sponsored giveaway series. Get creative about the virtual experience and entice residents to attend.
#5: Sponsor a School-Wide Drive
School-wide drives are an old classic – but you can put a fresh spin on them by inviting everyone at the school your team is visiting, to download your recycling app. Once connected, you can access plastic campaigns, leader boards and reward the kids with points and prizes.
Combine an outing to an endangered area or sanctuary with lessons on the app to teach kids about plastic pollution while on-the-go. Get them all to play a game in-app where they pick up plastic litter from a road in their neighborhood. Show them what a difference it makes!
Promoting plastic recycling in the community isn’t always easy. People lead busy lives and don’t take the time to stop and hear the messages around them. That’s why using technology is so effective. By engaging them and making them a part of something bigger, we stand to impact real change.
The nation is recycling less plastic than ever before. It’s time to make 2021 the year that your municipality stops the plastic epidemic for once and for all. Focus on inspiring residents to change their behavior, and solve a key problem in the plastic recycling chain.
Whether it’s rolling out new education initiatives, connecting with local grassroots groups on Facebook or hosting large community events online – everyone needs to be aware that plastic is a threat, and it begins in our homes with the way we choose to recycle it, or not.