Chemistry, Materials & Packaging
Recycle Across America, Participant Media Determined to Get Us to 'Recycle Right!'

Recycle Across America® (RAA), a nonprofit that has developed the first and only society-wide standardized labeling system for recycling bins to help eliminate the public confusion surrounding recycling, has joined forces with Participant Media on a social action campaign called Recycle Right!, focused on transforming recycling and improving the economics and prevalence of sustainable packaging and manufacturing.

The Recycle Right! campaign offers informational videos, tips and practical solutions – such as standardized recycling labels — to help everyone, well, recycle right and increase the amount of quality raw, recycled materials available to be used by manufacturers looking to lessen their environmental footprint.

“We can’t sit idle knowing that millions of tons of valuable recyclable materials, which are easy to convert into new products and packaging, are going to waste every year. Which one of us wants to throw billions of dollars and our environmental wellbeing into landfills? That’s what we’re doing if we’re not recycling right,” said TerraCycle CEO Tom Szaky. “We’re thrilled to join forces with Participant Media and Recycle Across America to fix the dysfunction of recycling and move the needle toward progress. And we can’t wait for audiences to watch ‘Human Resources’ to see inside our world at TerraCycle, where every day we’re proving that even the most undesirable and traditionally non-recyclable materials can have a new purpose and can be valuable.”

Historically there have been thousands of different labels on public area recycling bins, causing confusion and resulting in tons of garbage being thrown in recycling bins each day. A key component of the campaign is expanding the use of standardized recycling labels to help eliminate confusion at the bins and empowering everyone to ‘recycle right.’ The campaign aims to double the amount of standardized labels being used by the end of the year to one million. Use of the standardized labels on recycling bins has been shown to:

  • Increase recycling levels by more than 50 percent and significantly reduce the amount of trash thrown in recycling bins.
  • Help ensure a consistent quality and quantity of recycled materials, helping keep the cost of recycled raw materials competitive with virgin materials.

“We are incredibly excited to work with two of the most predominant leaders of change in their industries, Participant Media and TerraCycle,” said RAA executive director, Mitch Hedlund. “Worldwide waste is expected to double by 2025 and with the US being the largest producer of waste in the world, it is imperative that we address this issue today.

“We need to remind ourselves that it’s not just waste that’s doubling; it’s the use of finite natural resources and generation of excessive CO2 that will also double,” Hedlund continued. “This is why we’re thrilled to work with these companies to advance the use of the standardized labels. It’s a deceivingly simple solution that creates exponential progress — and I think we’re all ready for some progress!”

Chad Boettcher, EVP of Social Action and Advocacy at Participant Media said: “We know that recycling is the most important action we can do to improve the environment yet the percentage of valuable materials being recycled has not improved much over the past 17 years. We are eager to work with Recycle Across America and TerraCycle to spread awareness on such a tangible and easy step we can all take in improving the health of our world environmentally and economically.”

Today approximately half a million of RAA’s standardized labels are in use throughout the US, Canada and Europe labels by a host of industry leaders and at a variety of locations, such as: NBCUniversal; Hallmark; Kohler; Walt Disney World employee areas; Procter & Gamble manufacturing facilities; SanDisk; AOL; 2,000 US K-12 schools — including all the public schools in Washington, DC; universities including University of Denver, George Mason University and Johns Hopkins University; and thousands of other adopters. RAA and Participant Media aim to continue to expand this reach through Recycle Right!

Efforts to understand and eliminate the confusion around recycling in order to make it the norm is right up there with understanding and eliminating the gap between attitudes and behaviors (and sometimes related), and studies, labeling schemes and campaigns continue to abound.

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