ryan's recycling ryan hickman jr ambassador

We are so excited to announce that Ryan Hickman is BACK as a Busch Systems’ Junior Ambassador!!

To kick things off, we chatted a bit with Ryan (of Ryan’s Recycling) about his passion for recycling and what he has been up to for the last few years…


For those that might be new to Busch Systems or getting to know you for the first time – way back at the beginning, what was it that got you so interested in recycling?

When I was about 3 ½ years old, my dad took me with him to our local recycling center and I just thought it was a pretty cool place. Here in California where I live, we get .05¢ for each plastic bottle and aluminum can we recycle. The first time we went, I think I got about $5 so that was cool – but I also loved sorting the items and seeing them get crushed up at the recycling center.

And is that what lead to your first big initiative, your neighbourhood cans & bottles collection program?

Yes! I told all of my neighbors about recycling and gave them bags to start saving their cans and bottles instead of throwing them away. I started going by every Friday to pick up, and they told their friends and family members, and it just grew from there. Now I pick up from people all over Orange County. When I was seven years old, my story went viral from a post we did on Facebook showing I had saved $10,000 from recycling – which was about 200,000 cans and bottles. I started hearing from people all over the planet and I got invited on a lot of talk shows and interviews with news programs around the world.

What is your favourite way to share your knowledge and passion for recycling with others?

That’s a good question. I get a lot of fan mail, messages, and emails from people who are encouraged to recycle and take care of the planet after seeing my videos. I like making fun videos to share online and I also love talking to schools all over the world. I’ve talked to hundreds of classrooms of kids and it’s been fun to travel around the world and speak to large audiences about making a difference.

If you had to pick just one, what would your biggest goal or dream for the future be?

My goal is to get everyone recycling around the world and to persuade people to use less single-use plastic.

And what would you say is the biggest moment, milestone, or accomplishment you’ve had so far?

That’s a tough one! I’ve recycled nearly 1.9 million cans and bottles over the past ten years, so I’m pretty proud of that – but I’m also proud to have founded my nonprofit organization, Project3R. Its mission is to educate students and people around the world about recycling and we lead community clean up events. We’ve done some huge beach clean ups and partnered with some amazing organizations like Busch Systems!

Aw, shucks – thanks, Ryan!
So, with all that already under your hat, what do you think is the next step for Ryan’s Recycling?

I’m hoping that Ryan’s Recycling will help more kids learn about taking care of our planet – and we just started a residential recycling program with some local cities in my area! We’re able to pay people for their cans and bottles as part of our new RECYCLE FROM HOME program that was launched because of what I have been doing. We’re still a small company but we’re growing fast!

Now the question we’ve all been waiting for – what are some of the most strange, interesting, out-of-place things you’ve found during one of your beach cleanups?

Ha! I always get asked that. I’ve found phones, car keys, and money. I’ve found shotgun shells, thousands of beach toys (which get cleaned up and donated), lots of single shoes – and for some reason I find teeth flossers?? I found an inflatable bull one time. I found a washed Tiki statue. I found an Apple Watch and a FitBit. Mostly it’s trash, but it’s fun to find something out of the ordinary! My Instagram has a bunch of photos and videos of all the beach toys I’ve found.

What does “Sustainability” mean to you?

To me, sustainability means using what we have in a responsible manner and not creating new items when we have the resources to make something out of recycled material. That way, we save the environment by not using new materials.

Do you have any advice for adults that are trying to be more sustainable and do what they can to protect our environment?

It’s easy to make a difference. Little steps like using reusable water bottles or reusable grocery bags keep plastic items from ending up in the landfill. I just went on a camping trip and I took my reusable water bottle so that probably saved ten plastic bottles from being used. We compost at home, and I talked my parents into getting solar power for our house. And I tell everyone to really think about each item before you throw it away to see if it can be reused or recycled.

And if you could share just one take-away, insight, or piece of your know-how with other kids, what would you tell them?

You can make a real difference just by picking up trash when you see it (I try to pick up a random piece every day) – and recycling of course! Every can and bottle not thrown in the trash makes a big difference. You don’t have to recycle millions of items to make a change in the world, but when you do a little bit each day and your friends do the same, it adds up!!

Thank you so much for chatting with us, Ryan!


We are so excited to continue working with Ryan, his family, and his team, and to collaborate on getting the word out about sustainability and greener waste practices! Stay tuned for more Ryan’s Recycling initiatives and partnerships down the line.

In the meantime, if you would like to learn more about Ryan, you can visit the Ryan’s Recycling website (ryansrecycling.com), or connect with him and his team on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube!