As the 2018-19 school year kicks off for students and teachers across the country, every school that participates in PepsiCo’s Recycle Rally program has different goals when it comes to recycling.
Some schools are focused on making Recycle Rally an educational and developmental experience for the students. Others integrate the program into a broader environmental sustainability program at the school. Some want to take advantage of the rewards to support their needs for school supplies or other programs, and many schools just want to increase recycling because they are disappointed every time they see recyclables being unnecessarily added to landfills. That’s all according to Tom Mooradian, manager of environmental sustainability at PepsiCo.
“We established Recycle Rally to engage an audience at K-12 schools because we recognize that teachers care about the planet as much as we do, and they serve as tremendous advocates to help students get in the habit of recycling,” explains Mooradian. “Once the students become consistent recyclers, they often bring their families and friends along, too. That’s what we mean when we say PepsiCo Recycling believes that bigger change starts with one bottle, one person and one action, and Recycle Rally helps contribute to those efforts.”
Recycle Rally began in 2010 as part of PepsiCo’s Performance with Purpose initiative, which aims to not just drive value for shareholders but also to leave a positive imprint on both society and the environment. One of the company’s key environmental goals is to help increase the national recycling rate for beverage containers.
Recycle Rally is a key part of PepsiCo Recycling’s effort to significantly increase the national recycling rate for plastic and aluminum beverage containers. PepsiCo Recycling partners with organizations like Closed Loop Fund and The Recycling Partnership to help improve infrastructure and make recycling more convenient throughout the U.S.
This year’s program offers more than 250 free online resources to students, faculty and staff with the goal of increasing recycling rates at schools across the nation. Recycle Rally offers schools the opportunity to set recycling goals, track progress toward those goals, earn rewards and compete in contests for cash prizes.
Participating schools earn a reward point for each (estimated) bottle or can that they recycle (based on their responses to a few questions on the company’s website that allow PepsiCo to calculate their estimated recycling totals). Those reward points can be redeemed for supplies or gift cards to help the school. Recycle Rally also hosts contests and promotions that offer opportunities to win additional prizes for encouraging and increasing recycling. Additionally, winners of the Recycle Rally contests may be awarded large cash prizes, ranging up to the $50,000 grand prize, for their recycling efforts.
“We have found that one of the most effective ways to increase recycling is to make it a habit early in life, and we have also seen that young people tend to bring their families and community members along once they start recycling,” says Mooradian. “Schools stand out to us as an important place to inspire, educate and motivate our youth to recycle. We developed Recycle Rally specifically for schools and have continued to add helpful resources and tools to make the program more effective every year.”
For those who are just starting to recycle, PepsiCo offers guidelines to help them assess their options and know what types of questions to ask when setting up the capability to recycle. The program also provides tools to help participants understand best practices for setting up their recycling bins and communicating to boost awareness.
“The tangible resources have been beyond amazing,” according to a Recycle Rally school teacher at Stinesville Elementary School. “We were having a hard time coming up with a solution of how to get bins funded for our school. This program was our solution.”
For those who are more advanced and want to take their recycling to the highest levels, they can strive to earn Gold or Platinum status by completing a series of tasks through PepsiCo’s new Recycling Advancement Plan. They can conduct recycling competitions within their school or compare their school’s recycling performance versus other schools on leaderboards, and they can compete for big cash prizes as they vie for a place in the top 25. Participants can also access the program’s new Impact Tracker, which allows them to earn digital badges that translate their recycling totals into fun, recognizable terms.
“When it comes to specific recycling goals, we encourage teachers and students to set their own goals based on the recycling infrastructure in their community, the size of their team, the amount of time they can afford to allocate to it, access to supplies and previous knowledge of recycling,” notes Mooradian. “Some common goals include: beating last year’s record, recycling a certain number of materials, recruiting a specific number of faculty or students to participate, etc.”
Through Recycle Rally, PepsiCo Recycling has partnered with more than 4,000 schools.
“By partnering with students, faculty and staff, together we can make an impact to improve our environment and increase recycling rates,” adds Mooradian. “Through the program, we’ve already recycled more than 150 million beverage containers, and we expect even greater impact in the future as students grow up and retain the lessons and habits they formed during their involvement with Recycle Rally.”