In a perfect world, we'd recycle every can and compost every scrap of food, but those familiar blue and green bins are often nowhere to be found. According to a 2011 Ipsos poll, 25% of those surveyed said the reason they don't recycle more is that it wasn't accessible or convenient for them the Huffington Post found. Accessibility is key to your recycling program's success and can mean the difference between the landfill or the recycling plant.
In their research on the behavioral economics of recycling, Remi Trudel and his colleagues found all sorts of weird biases that influence whether we recycle or not. For instance, we're more likely to recycle a soda can that isn't already crushed or correctly dispose of a coffee cup that has our name on it. So the goal here is to make the decision not a decision, but a habit. Visual cues help us with this. When we look for a recycling station, we need to see it. Signs that visually delegate what goes where, what can't be recycled, and how recycling helps your green initiative's goals make your program more likely to succeed.
If you're a sustainability manager or in charge of waste management for your facility, you will want to place recycling bins at obvious flow points strategically. Exits and entrances, bathrooms and water fountains, concession stands, and dining areas are all no-brainers. However, if you want to increase your odds that a plastic cup ends up in the right place, you have to get a little creative. If you have outdoor areas where people congregate, make sure you have some dual-stream or compartment recycling bins placed there. If you're a facility manager at a large venue and you experience long lines regularly, make sure there are convenient recycling stations for those waiting. A recycling bin in the right spot makes all the difference.
Strategic, Not Excessive
The goal is not to saturate the space with more bins than you can keep track of, but to consolidate the placements into areas that are easy for patrons to access and for your staff to reach. If there are fifty bins in fifty different locations that your staff has to zigzag around to reach each shift, you'll be wasting valuable human resources. Moreover, it's essential to make sure removal is easy and efficient. Multi-stream bins that allow workers with pushcarts to get in and out from the back and don't force heavy foot traffic to flow around them are essential for smooth operation in facilities with substantial foot traffic.
Remember, we are creatures of convenience. Having an accessible recycling program will help your green initiative's bottom line and make sure more items end up back in rotation and not in the trash.