Five Steps to More Effective Public Space Recycling

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In-home recycling is growing in popularity, but public-space recycling lags behind in many areas. Restaurants, malls, cafeterias, transportation centers, streets, parks and other locations produce thousands of tons of potentially recyclable materials.

Tim Hortons recycling bins

A patron recycles her coffee cup in the custom CleanRiver drivethru unit at Tim Hortons.

The solution is for the public and private entities responsible for public spaces to explore a systematic approach to recycling and composting.

In-home recycling is growing in popularity, but public-space recycling lags behind in many areas. Restaurants, malls, cafeterias, transportation centers, streets, parks and other locations produce thousands of tons of potentially recyclable materials. According to the Coalition for Resource Recovery, New York City’s accommodation, food service, and retail sectors alone send 2,400 tons of paper, metal, plastic, and glass to landfills each day.

“There’s a tremendous opportunity to recycle more and make real strides on sustainability,” said Bruce Buchan, CEO of CleanRiver™ Recycling Solutions, a division of Midpoint International, Inc. “The solution is for the public and private entities responsible for public spaces to explore a systematic approach to recycling and composting.”

According to CleanRiver Recycling Solutions, which manufactures recycling containers and has worked with businesses, colleges and public agencies for over 20 years, there are five primary steps to more effective public space recycling:

1. Assess the waste stream to establish a baseline and identify waste diversion targets. Assess staff and financial resources required to support the program. Negotiate a contract with recycling/waste collection contractor(s).

2. Choose the right container because it does make a difference in the success of the program. Select the height, width and depth of the containers to accommodate traffic volume and to provide the right capacity for the collection schedule. Modular, interchangeable and configurable recycling bins easily adapt to changes in customer habits and the waste stream.

3. Location of recycling containers is key. Put recycling bins in areas with high traffic flow to collect all the waste that is generated. Pair recycling containers with garbage containers on at least a 1:1 ratio and situate recycling containers beside garbage cans, rather than back-to-back.

4. Show them how to recycle and what to throw away. Recycling containers need impactful recycling graphics to guide the process. Use standard colors like blue and green. Keep the wording simple and use pictures of recyclable items wherever possible. A recycling station has about two to five seconds to educate an individual as to where to put their waste and recycling.

5. Evaluate regularly to measure the effectiveness of the program on reducing waste and increasing retention of recyclable materials. These audits are used to fine-tune the program, including coordinating the size and location of containers, and the frequency of collection.

About CleanRiver

CleanRiver™ Recycling Solutions, a division of Midpoint International, Inc., is a leading provider of recycling bins, recycling containers and recycling stations that are made from raw materials with the highest recycled content available. It also provides consulting services that support effective recycling and composting. It offers a wide range of standard products as well as design and engineering services to produce tailored waste stream management solutions. For more than 20 years, the company has supported the recycling initiatives and environmental stewardship efforts of schools and colleges, quick-serve restaurants, hospitality businesses, governments, military installations, and healthcare and office facilities in Canada and across the United States.

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