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Credibility Versus Misinformation in Waste and Recycling

Credibility Versus Misinformation in Waste and Recycling
During a luncheon discussion at GWMS, EREF President and CEO Bryan Staley emphasizes the need for credibility amidst a culture of misinformation.

Some may think any item can be recycled. Others may believe the reason marine pollution is a global problem is because people don’t recycle enough.

For many, it’s tough to distinguish fact versus fiction. That’s because misinformation can spread 10 times farther and faster than facts, explained Bryan Staley, president and CEO of the Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF), during Monday’s luncheon presentation at Global Waste Management Symposium (GWMS) 2020.

Staley mentioned that the need for credible information in a misinformed world has been a problem for quite some time and has the potential to undermine a lot of what happens with research and credible information based on scientific fact.

He alluded to Waste Management’s Tara Hemmer’s keynote, which looked at the shift that happened 25 years ago in solid waste and the need for more credible information. The advancement of science in this industry took off, and that’s when EREF came about.

“EREF’s mission really relates to getting that credibility into science,” said Staley. “Through our programs, that’s what we at EREF aim to do. We have the right to our own opinions, not our own facts. That’s what conferences like the Global Waste Management Symposium intend to do. That scientific consensus serves as a key measure of credibility.”

Staley also told attendees that as a population, human beings tend to look for information that conforms to their own preferences.

“When you add bias plus social media, that fosters a misinformation explosion. So, this creates a situation where the more often someone sees a piece of misinformation, the more likely they are to believe it,” he said.

“There is real information out there. We need to correct this as a group,” he added. “We, as a group of technical experts, need to verify the information that is put out there. We have an obligation to do that.”

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