Sustainability 101

Q&A: Brenda Pulley On America Recycles Day

Image: iwanttoberecycled.org

Do we really still need one day set aside to promote recycling? Do we still need America Recycles Day?

If you read John Tierney’s recent New York Times article “The Reign of Recycling” (and the enormous outcry that followed), you would know that the answer is yes.  We still need America Recycles Day because there are still a lot of misconceptions and misstatements out there about recycling.

As November 15 approaches, here is a Q&A with Brenda Pulley, Senior V.P. of Recycling for Keep America Beautiful, the nonprofit behind America Recycles Day.

What is the best way for businesses to make a meaningful impact on America Recycles Day? 

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as much as 45% of municipal waste is generated in the workplace. This is a great opportunity for businesses to provide information to their employees about what can be recycled in the workplace. However, it’s also important to reinforce what can be recycled in the communities surrounding that employer, so that they can make it easier for their employees to recycle at home.  There are great, interactive activities and tools available on the America Recycles Day website designed for the workplace setting.  And our recent research project on how to increase recycling in the workplace offers additional information and tips on how to increase recycling participation in the workplace.

Tell us one thing that is little known about America Recycles Day. 

Many people do not know that it was originally established to emphasize the importance of buying recycled products. This is still a very important message to reinforce so that we heighten the need of meeting the strong, consistent demand for recycled material to be feedstock for new products.

What is the next big thing in recycling? 

There has been and will continue to be innovation in processing recyclables and manufacturing them into new products.  But, ideally, the process would entail more focused consideration by product and package designers to 1) minimize the materials needed, 2) maximize the use of recycled materials, and 3) ensure that the product or its packaging is more easily recyclable at the end of its life.

The US national recycling rate lags behind some European countries. How do we catch up? 

There is not a silver bullet … well not yet.  At Keep America Beautiful, we are focusing our efforts on how best to encourage individuals to reduce waste and recycle ore. We are constantly working on better understanding how to engage and motivate individuals to recycle more and then share those learnings with our network of recycling professionals and advocates.  In addition to conducting research in this area, we also have partnered with the Ad Council and developed the first-ever national recycling public service announcement campaign.  The campaign is titled “I Want to Be Recycled” and it is about getting individuals to recycle so that beverage can can become something new like a new can or a bicycle.  So please check out the ads on the  website.  

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Need help planning an America Recycles Day event? Contact your Great Forest representative or email: recycling@greatforest.com.

Did you know you can earn extra LEED credit for America Recycles Day?

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