Improve Recycling Resources

By educating and engaging individuals to recycle more of the right things the right way—at home, at work and on-the-go—we can help make recycling more economically viable, creating jobs and providing recyclables to manufacture new products and packaging, while continuing to reap greater environmental and community benefits.

Top 10 in the Bin (Most commonly recyclable items within the USA)

  1. Cardboard
  2. Paper
  3. Food Boxes
  4. Mail
  5. Beverage Cans
  6. Food Cans
  7. Glass Bottles
  8. Jars (Glass & Plastic)
  9. Jugs
  10. Plastic Bottles and Caps

Find out about your local recycling options here: iwanttobereycled.org.

Ten Tips for designing Public Space Recycling Programs

  1. Recycling Must Be Simple and Conveniet - Most people are inclined to recycle when presented the opportunity. The key is to remove the two primary barriers that stop them: lack of convenience and confusion over what and how to recycle.
  2. Know Your Waste Stream - Before selecting bins or locations learn what materials are discarded in the target area. Waste audits or even visual surveys of trash bins help inform what the lid message should say, where to place bins and even what size they should be.
  3. Place Recycling Bins Directly Next to Trash Bins - Bins located by themselves attract both trash and recycling regardless of the label. Options for recycling and trash must be placed immediately next to each other anywhere you want to capture recyclables without excessive contamination.
  4. Use Restrictive Lids - Small openings reduce contamination. Restrictive lids just large enough for common recyclables (round for containers, narrow slot for paper) force people to slow down and read what the label says.
  5. Use Clear, Simple Labels and Signage - Get the essential information across to users in simple terms. Use key words like “Cans & Bottles” or easy to recognize images. Avoid cluttering the label with too much detail.
  6. Choose the Right Bin - Select the bin and accessories that are best adapted to the setting. Capacity, ergonomic design for servicing, resistance to wear and abuse are just some of the factors to consider. Make the recycling bin visually distinct from trash bins. Blue is the most common color used for recycling.
  7. Be Consistent - Pick a uniform bin style, color scheme and label message and stick to it. Coordinate with nearby residential recycling programs and other public settings to standardize bin colors, design and messaging. Familiarity reduces confusion as people move from home to work or just being out and about.
  8. Keep Bins Clean and Well Maintained - Dirty and dilapidated recycling bins turn people off. The same is true for overflowing or badly contaminated recycling bins. Keep bins in good working order with fresh labels and regular cleaning.
  9. Educational Outreach - Include special signage with the bins. Face-to-Face interaction with frequent visitors trains them for the long term. Recruit people who interact with users to be recycling ambassadors, such as team coaches at athletic fields or attendants at community centers.
  10. Be Prepared and Ready to Improve - Pilot your program to learn what works best before investing in the full infrastructure. Monitor the bins and be prepared to make adjustments. Track the quantity and composition of collected material to benchmark and improve the program over time.

Tips to Improve Workplace Recycling

Make workplace recycling easy.

  • At desk-side: Use the little trash bin along with a recycling bin. If not feasible, use equal-sized trash and recycling bins.
  • In common areas: Include paired recycling and trash bins.
  • Keep signage simple (see example).
  • Match messaging to bin: List most common recyclables on the recycling bin and trash items on the trash bin.

Maintain a consistent program throughout the building.

  • Establish a consistent recycling and trash bin set-up, as well as collection program, in all offices and common areas to decrease confusion for employees and janitorial staff. This will improve participation and the quality of recyclables.
  • Keep messaging consistent on bins, emails, fliers, and any other materials. Ensure that all janitorial staff receives the same information on recycling program guidelines.

Take advantage of outside resources. Visit www.RecyclingatWork.org for a copy of this research report along with tools, templates and other guidance to establish an effective workplace recycling program.

To learn more about our recycling resources, click here.