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The Environmental and Health Benefits of Elevating Local Recycling IQ

Posted by Danielle Heifa on Monday, November 14, 2016 8:00 AM

Educating residents about the effects of bad recycling can act as incentive for them to get better. Ironically, as recycling rates remain stagnate, themes of health and the environment continue to dominate North American conversation.

To help you motivate your residents to recycle more (and more efficiently), we’ve assembled a list of the environmental and health benefits of elevating local recycling IQ.

Connecting your residents to universal causes, may help them fuel the learning process.

Fewer recyclables/compost materials in the landfill 

The EPA estimates that 75% of the American waste stream is recyclable, but that only about 30% of it is recycled. When a resident has a high recycling IQ, it helps to reduce the number of items creeping into the landfill that shouldn’t be there. And chances are, if a resident’s IQ is high enough, this will often translate into them being a genius composter too, helping to divert tons of items from the landfill every year entirely.

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Both recycling properly and composting are especially great for the planet considering that having more items in the landfill increases pollution and the amount of methane emitted into the atmosphere. Methane is a greenhouse gas, produced when organic material decomposes, that is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide. And greenhouses gases (especially methane) are cited as the leading cause of global warming.

In addition to landfill decomposition, incineration is also making a comeback to deal with trash in many North American landfills. And with incineration, comes its own set of environmental problems-- ranging from CO2 emissions during the “burn,” to toxic bottom ash that is left over after the material is incinerated. When residents across your municipality are properly informed, their recycling IQ becomes an agent of change in an effort to reduce the carbon footprint of your community.

Less toxic e-waste, soil and water contamination

With the rise of electronic use has come the rise of e-waste. The wide and constant use of televisions, computers, cell phones (and more), has meant that many of these products (at the end of their life cycles) have morphed into “e-waste,” improperly thrown into the trash and dumped into our landfills. This e-waste can contaminate landfill soil, which can eventually contaminate ground and surface water with toxic substances like mercury, lead and cadmium.  But as residents build their recycling IQ’s, they become increasingly aware that electronics are not meant for the trash bin. An educated resident knows the drop-off locations dedicated to proper e-waste disposal in their area. So by raising your residents’ recycling IQ, you are not only helping the planet, but also improving public health.

Conservation of energy and natural resources

When residents have a high recycling IQ, they tend to recycle more. And recycling more means that a greater number of items are diverted from the landfill and re-processed as new products -- ready to be bought and sold “again” in the business market. Recycling, in other words, is product “reincarnation,” preventing the need for items to be made from scratch. And when products are not made from scratch, we conserve energy and help to protect natural resources along the way. Recycling paper, for example, means that new paper can we produced with the recycled pulp, decreasing the number of trees that need to be cut down each year and cutting down the amount of energy needed for the paper production process.   

These are just some of the environmental and health benefits of elevating the overall recycling IQ of your municipality. Feel free to use any of this information in future press releases or newsletters. And for a “plan of attack” in your pursuit of educating your residents read, 3 strategies to help raise the recycling IQ of your residents.”


logo-green.png About Recycle Coach: Recycle Coach specializes in digital solutions for municipal and private waste management services to effectively educate and engage residents. Our technology platforms for web, mobile, and digital assistants focus on education and encouragement to help residents to be better recyclers, with the goal of inspiring positive and lasting change in communities around the world. It is our constant innovation and scalability of services that allow us to meet the needs of over 3000 communities across the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and more.  

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Topics: Recycling Education

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