In an effort to help consumers recycle properly, the National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA), the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), the Northeast Recycling Council (NERC) and the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) have jointly developed the “Think Twice” poster.
“The economics of recycling are changing. As our members look to expand markets for their recyclables, it is important consumers understand what items can be recycled and who to contact if they have questions. Our members are educating their customers to improve recycling habits. This poster supports those efforts,” said NWRA President and CEO Darrell Smith in a statement.
The poster advises the general public to rethink what they are putting into their recycling bins and how certain items—mainly electronics and batteries, needles and sharps, plastic bags, diapers and hoses and wires—can harm waste and recycling workers and damage expensive equipment at materials recovery facilities (MRFs). When in doubt, the poster reminds customers to contact their local waste and recycling provider.
“SWANA is aware that there are a variety of confusing recycling messages in the United States and Canada, which lead to increased contamination and pose safety threats to workers,” said David Biderman, SWANA CEO and executive director, in a statement. “This poster, if distributed widely by our members and others, will help improve the quality of recyclables generated at MRFs and reduce the risks to workers involved in recycling collection and processing.”
“Our experiences have shown that education plays a vital role in decreasing contamination and increasing the quality of the recycling stream,” said Robin Wiener, ISRI president, in a statement. “The recycling industry is working together to help people better understand common items not accepted in curbside recycling bins. While the rules for residential recycling vary from community to community, there are several common items that cannot be recycled in curbside programs regardless of location. Recycling works, and we all have an important part to play.”
“Recycling what should be recycled ‘where’ it is best recycled is important for the safety of the recycling industry and those that work in it,” said Lynn Rubinstein, NERC executive director, in a statement. “Electronics, batteries and plastic bags should all be recycled, but not in residential recycling programs. Sharps and needles need special handling to protect workers and the public, and food and liquids should be recycled. Of course, diapers need to go in the trash. Following these important basics will improve the value of recyclables as well as make it a safe workplace.”