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Why Raising Recycling IQ is a Modern Day Challenge

Posted by Danielle Heifa on Monday, September 26, 2016 11:02 AM

Raising resident recycling IQ can feel like an uphill battle. And with a busy work day like yours, it’s most likely not your only priority. What exactly is recycling IQ? And why is it so hard to elevate in the communities you are responsible for educating? We know that understanding an issue is the first step in solving it, so we’ve done some research that can help you understand why it proves such a challenge.  

Here are 3 reasons why it’s difficult to raise recycling IQ:


Short attention spans 

shutterstock_325661450_S.jpgRecycling IQ is a person’s overall knowledge base of proper item disposal. And it’s difficult to engage residents in an effort to elevate this knowledge base, as attention spans increasingly become shorter and shorter. According to a study conducted by Microsoft, the age of smartphones has left many residents with attention spans shorter than that of a goldfish. The study showed that the average attention span has fallen from 12 seconds in 2000 (around the time the mobile revolution began) to eight seconds in 2013. Residents are now better than ever at identifying what they want and don’t want to engage with and need less time to process or commit things to memory. The study also provided evidence that the ability of residents to multitask has improved.

"While digital lifestyles decrease sustained attention overall, it’s only true in the long-term. Early adopters and heavy social media users front load their attention and have more intermittent bursts of high attention.”

Research done by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information and the National Library of Medicine in the US also found that 79% of respondents regularly use portable devices (cell phone/I pad) while watching TV, creating a “dual screen” scenario. Both of these studies show that residents are not only growing shorter, more intensified attention spans, but that they are often ingesting media from a series of screens 

Information overload

Layered on top of shrinking attention spans is the fact that we live in “the information age” – the age of constantly ingesting loads of new information. While attention span is about focus, “information overload” is about the sheer amount of data that residents are constantly coming into contact with online.

According to Dr. Martin Hilbert and his team at the University of southern California, the internet, cell phones and on demand television have created a world where we now receive 5 times as much information every day as we did in 1986. Using the analogy of an 85-page newspaper, Dr. Martin found that as of 2007, we now receive 174 newspapers worth of information per day, compared to the 40 newspapers worth of information we used to ingest in 1986. And this figure does not even include the information created and sent out through email, twitter, social networking sites and text messages. With nearly 600, 000 “books” worth of information stored on computers around the world, residents are often bombarded with communication clutter on a daily basis.

And cutting through the clutter in an attempt to raise recycling IQ is hard to do without the help of the technology you are competing against. 

Focus on consumption, not waste management 

Another challenge in the battle of raising recycling IQ is the fact that modern North American society at large, places a larger focus on consumption, as opposed to waste management. In cities and municipalities both big and small, the constant buying and using of goods (as opposed to their proper disposal) is often a huge priority for residents young and old. Leveraging and even encouraging the desire for consumption, companies continuously market goods to your residents (both online and off), with the help of hefty budgets, making it increasingly difficult for your public program to compete with the glitz and glamour of a thriving consumer culture. Without the proper tools, waste management and recycling education, can often fall behind in the competition for resident engagement. To learn strategies that help cut through the clutter read, 3 strategies to raise recycling IQ.

Here are some reasons why it is difficult to raise recycling IQ in your community. Which one do you think affects your municipality most?


What type of recycling EdTech would help boost your municipality's recycling IQ?
Find out through the eGuide below:

Download the Free eGuide on: Evaluating Recycling EdTech for Your Municipality


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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