Consider the set of recycling statistics, reflected in the top bar chart. It compares American recycling rates for select materials (paper, glass, metals and plastics) over a fifty year time frame (1960-2010), using ten year intervals.
The large green bars on the graph show that between 1960 and 2010, paper recycling rates exceeded the recycling rates for the other materials.
As the years pass, American recycling habits expanded, with beverage container recycling explaining much of the increase in glass, metals and plastics recycling in 1990.
Starting in 1990, yard trimming recycling rates, not presented in the top bar chart, also occupied a larger portion of the average American's recycling efforts. By 2010, Americans were recycling 57.5% of all their yard trimmings.
The second chart, a pie chart, moves the conversation from a long term, fifty year recycling perspective to a short term, one year recycling perspective.
The ten categories of materials recovered from the municipal waste stream listed in the pie chart cover all of the categories for which material recycling statistics are recorded.
Based on their sheer volume in the recycled materials stream, paper and lawn trimmings make up three-quarters of the total volume of all recycled materials in 2010.
Eight materials constituting the remaining one-quarter of the 2010 recycling total also sound familiar to American recycling ears. At one time or another during the year, many Americans receive reminders to recycle glass, plastic, metals, textiles, woods, and other materials.
Source: Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. December 2011.
In many locations, changing technology and community practices contributed to recycling rate upward momentum over this same sixty year time frame.
Reverse vending machines, invented during a 1990s recycling technology wave, now fill space in many retail locations around the country.
State beverage container recycling laws and ease of use account for a portion of their long term success.
While circumstances exist where individuals might need a moment to stop and think through any particular recycling task, most modern recycling tasks, like using reverse vending machines, are quite simple tasks, accomplished by many individuals unreflective participation in organized beverage container recycling programs.
The 9,000 curbside recycling programs in existence between 1985 and 2005 also contributed to increased recycling rates. (Source: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)). All curbside recycling programs follow some general rules. Five of the most common are presented below.
Fifty years of upward trends in recycling statistics remind us of recycling facts familiar to most Americans through experience. Recycling practices easily blend into modern American life. Most successful recycling programs begin and end with locating their recycling corner.
Strategically placing a recycling center in a corner of a high traffic location often works to attract individual attention along with providing a centralized waste removal location. Providing clean and clearly marked recycling bins finishes the recycling center building task.
The following ten step recycling program initially focuses on the home recycling audience, however the tips also apply to certain segments of the work audience .
While a bit rigid in presentation, the ten steps are intended more as a recycling organizing tool than an explicit set of recycling rules.
Rinsing recyclables also promotes a sanitary recycling environment.
Mixed paper recycling refers to the practice of collecting a variety of paper types in one bin or can.
The paper types can include cardboard, telephone books, junk mail, office paper, construction paper and more.
Participants in mixed paper recycling programs need to be aware of the program's acceptable and unacceptable types of papers.
© 2001-2016. Patricia A. Michaels.