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Behavior Change
Behavior Change Campaigns Aim to Boost Recycling Rates in the US, UK

Organizations in the United States and United Kingdom continue to concoct clever ways to convince their citizens that recycling is worthwhile.

In England, a new behavior change campaign is trying to reinforce that every little bit helps: If every Londoner recycled one extra plastic bottle a week for a year, enough energy would be saved to power Wembley Stadium for two years – a venue that can hold 90,000 people. So Resource London is asking Londoners to recycle “just one thing,” in its new “Recycle for London” campaign.

As part of the campaign, materials have been distributed across local authorities to offer advice to help households increase their recycling potential. Resource London is a partnership between waste reduction charity WRAP and the London Waste and Recycling Board.

“As a nation, we’re recycling more than ever, but many people are confused by what can and can’t be recycled. Having a strong, simple city-wide message in Recycle for London will help many more Londoners recycle,” said Marcus Gover, Director at WRAP.

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WRAP is also working with local authorities, waste management contractors, recyclers, producers and retailers to explore options and develop recommendations for improving recycling rates in the UK, at the request of UK government Minister Rory Stewart. Later in November, the group will deliver scenarios and recommendations to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

“We are not looking for a one size fits all approach. It is more about trying to identify a small number of approaches to recycling collections that will increase yields and quality, improve services while reducing costs and complying with regulations,” said Grover. “We also recognise that change won’t happen overnight so we are looking for a vision that local authorities could work towards as contracts expire and services are refreshed.”

Earlier this year, Keep Britain Tidy’s “Neat Streets” campaign to reduce litter in London was quite successful. Their research suggested that littering fell by 26 percent since the campaign began in May.

Meanwhile, here at home Keep America Beautiful is asking Americans to join an online pledge to recycle and participant in events for the 18th America Recycles Day on November 15. The event is intended to educate people on the importance of recycling – for the economy and the environment – as well as help motivate occasional recyclers to become everyday recyclers.

“There are so many consumer products beyond aluminum cans and plastic bottles that can be recycled and made into something new and useful, which is why this year’s theme is ‘Bathrooms, Bags and Gadgets,’” said Brenda Pulley, Keep America Beautiful’s SVP of recycling.

The theme is intended to highlight everyday products that may not be “top of mind” when it comes to recycling, but can and should be recycled. Examples include haircare and mouthwash bottles, plastic bags and wraps used in packaging produce, paper towels and bathroom tissue, and e-waste such as mobile phones, tablets, game consoles, and televisions.

Numerous events will be held across the US, including more than 100 collection and educational events featuring plastic bag recycling, and 50 e-recycling events hosted by CyclePoint® from SourceAmerica®, a non-profit e-recycling network that creates jobs for people with disabilities. Long-time recycling promoter Johnson & Johnson and its Care to Recycle™ program will be giving away 10,000 bathroom recycling bags to remind individuals what bathroom items are recyclable.

Through November 20, individuals are encouraged to take the “I Will Recycle” Pledge and enter a contest to win one of four Apple Certified Refurbished iPad mini 3 prizes. To enter: post a photo at @KABTweet or @RecyclesDay on Twitter, or @KeepAmericaBeautiful on Instagram, holding an item you will recycle – be sure to use the hashtags #IWillRecycle and #Sweepstakes.