Getting the public into the habit of recycling has become less challenging over the years, but a problem has arisen from the increase in people recycling – getting individuals to recycle properly.

It’s okay – we’re only human, mistakes happen.

Disposing of waste can cost thousands if not millions of dollars for cities and municipalities. In order to minimize disposal costs, councils and waste disposal companies from the North America and the United Kingdom have developed innovative ways to correct people’s bad habits, reducing the amount of waste they produce and recycling more.

Putting trash into a bin

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Here are some of the tactics that have been used to reduce waste and increase recycling:

  • Recycling crews that can’t collect something leave postcards explaining the reasons why they couldn’t pick up the recycled material. 
  • Individuals who repeatedly recycle improperly receive phone calls, visits, or get fined.
  • In cities and towns with universities and colleges, local councils & student officers go door to door in main student areas to talk recycling and waste reduction.
  • Some cities have dedicated their own communications team to reducing waste.
  • Local councils have made it mandatory for recycling bins to be the largest bins allowed for curbside pickup.
  • Offenders of constantly throwing food laced containers in their recycling have been made to re-sort their waste.
  • Kingston Upon Thames – a borough of London – changed its recycling and waste collection to every two weeks while collecting kitchen compost every week.
  • Educational information about recycling has been sent to apartment dwellers and homeowners on behalf of local councils.
  • In Cleveland, recycling bins have been outfitted with RFID tags that tell the sanitation department if someone hasn’t put out their recyclables for a few weeks – not doing so will get the offender slapped with a $100 fine.
  • Ohio and North Carolina have held campaigns called “Get Caught Green Handed” which awarded people with gift cards when they used community recycling bins.
  • San Francisco made composting mandatory, reducing waste and cutting disposal costs.
  • Recycling rates went up by 137% when the town of Cherry Hill, New Jersey implemented the RecycleBank rewards program! 
  • Halifax implemented a clear plastic bag rule that has decreased curbside waste by 3,248 tons, or 31.4%

While some of these tactics might seem harsh on individuals who aren’t recycling properly, sometimes you have to get dirty in order to reduce waste.

Trash bags

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Does your community have any of its own waste reduction measures in place?