Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

“America Recycles Day” Sets Internet Buzzing About Recycling

logo ARD white bkgrndSince it launched America Recycles Day in 1997, the Keep America Beautiful organization has made November 15 a focal point, the day the entire country is reminded to pay attention to recycling. Last Friday, 16 years later, ARD is focusing Americans’ attention on recycling more than ever by effectively using online communication tools that did not even exist in 1997.

The Twitter feed on the home page of AmericaRecyclesDay.org was steadily posting messages all last week, especially last Friday. When I checked just now, four days later, tweets containing the hashtag #AmericaRecyclesDay were still arriving, and those 140-or-fewer-character messages are strongly in favor of recycling.

If you are not a Twitter user, be aware that there are about 50 million Americans active on that channel. The America Recycles Day messages were also circulating on social networks such as Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook. Facebook has about 200 million users. A short message about the value of recycling can reach thousands of people in a few minutes.

Why is this important? In a word, awareness. We live in an increasingly busy world, where it’s all too easy to lose track of something, even something as good as recycling. Fact is, most Americans do think recycling is a good thing. They also think they should be doing more of it than they do. That’s not just me speculating.

On America Recycles Day, the Plastics Make it Possible group released results of a new national survey showing that most Americans feel they’re not “doing enough for the environment.” Only 37 percent of Americans in the survey feel they are doing enough recycling.

Many survey respondents said they really don’t know how to do more. Only 46 percent are “knowledgeable about what it takes to be eco-friendly” in their daily lives. Roughly two out of three say they would like to learn some simple steps that help the planet.

The Plastics Make it Possible people are suggesting a very simple step: buy recycled. Great idea. Even though more than 90 percent of Americans say they recycle daily, and nearly all of us have access to recycling, looking for products made with recycled materials is much less common. Example: Only 28 percent of the Americans surveyed say they will look for holiday gifts made with recycled material this year.

Buying and using things made with recycled material is important. It closes the recycling loop by creating demand for recycled products, and that demand stimulates more recycling. The closed loop becomes a virtuous cycle.

The survey, which was carried out carried out by Kelton Research, tells us that even though many Americans are not sure how to be eco-friendly, most are taking steps to remedy that. Fully 78 percent say they have taken some action to learn more about which products their communities collect for recycling. For consumers, that’s a big step in the right direction.

Many steps to advance recycling also are underway within the plastics industry itself. SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association, which represents all components of the plastics value chain, is promoting a group of initiatives focused on Zero Waste, such as: RecyclePlastics365, an online plastics recycling marketplace connecting buyers and sellers of scrap plastics and recycling services; Operation Clean Sweep, an international program for preventing resin pellet loss at production locations; resinGEAR, the industry’s own line of corporate, industrial and promotional apparel made from recycled plastics. The plastics industry is fully committed to recycling and other zero waste and sustainability efforts.

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