Public Education

Recycling is an essential part of reducing the impact we have on our environment. Forty years ago, the recycling challenge was about getting people and businesses to embrace a new way of discarding waste: bundling newspapers, sorting plastics and glass, and resisting the old habit of throwing all our waste in the garbage. Today, with evolving waste streams, single-stream collection methods and advanced processing systems, recycling has become more complex. Recycling the right materials in the right way really does matter, but it doesn’t always happen: it’s estimated that 16 percent of materials put in recycling bins are not actually recyclable.

As the recycling landscape has evolved in recent years and become more challenging for consumers, we are working to educate people about the benefits not only of recycling, but also recycling properly. Our Recycle Often. Recycle Right.® (http://recycleoftenrecycleright.com/) campaign helps consumers understand what can and cannot be recycled.

A key tool of the Recycle Often. Recycle Right.® campaign is a toolkit (http://recycleoftenrecycleright.com/resources/), which includes brochures, posters, ads, radio clips, blog posts, videos and more, used to spread the message. In addition, the toolkit provides K-12 curriculum supporting national science standards and is available to visitors to the campaign’s microsite. We keep the campaign fresh with fun, educational recycling videos for events such as Earth Day and holidays.

From a Recycle Often. Recycle Right.® coloring contest, to an America Recycles Day cleanup, to a day camp for children and an Earth Day hike and luncheon for seniors, our El Sobrante Landfill in Corona, California, is deeply committed to recycling and environmental education.

Our Recycle Often. Recycle Right.® campaign is national in scope and joins partners for recycling education such as The Recycling Partnership, AMERIPEN, the National Waste & Recycling Association and others. We work hard to make these education programs come alive locally. Many of our sites across North America host educational activities, programs, community events and facility open houses to inform and educate people about managing waste better. For example, our Monarch Hill Renewable Energy Park in Coconut Creek, Florida, hosted an event with the Miami Dolphins for more than 800 elementary school students and their families to learn about sustainability, renewable energy and, of course, how to Recycle Often. Recycle Right.®

Oakland Housing Authority

Oakland Housing Authority and Waste Management work with property managers to ensure that residents have access to trash collection, recycling and composting; we also provide educational materials to support proper recycling practices.

East Bay Rental Housing Association

With the recent addition of compost collection to Oakland’s condos and apartments, we partner with the East Bay Rental Housing Association to educate residents through door-to-door outreach, distribution of countertop compost collection pails, signage and more.

Oakland Unified School District’s Green Gloves Program

Our partnership with Oakland Unified School District’s Green Gloves program provides annual training to custodial and nutrition staff on recycling and composting, respectively. We also donate compost to the school gardens to introduce the closed-loop benefit of composting food scraps.

Davis Street iRecycle@school Education Center

Davis Street iRecycle@school Education Center is a collaborative partnership of Waste Management Alameda County and StopWaste, a public agency working to reduce the local waste stream. Each year nearly 20,000 Alameda county children learn about what happens to their recycling, garbage and compost at a working materials recovery facility.

One City, Many Lessons

Where possible, we provide a multiprogram approach to reach different parts of the community with recycling education. Oakland, California, is a good example of our work with a number of community partners.

Waste Management’s Recycle Corps: Uncovering Passion, Creating Impact

We work with young people through the Waste Management Recycle Corps internship program in Washington state. Each year, 10 college students participate in an 11-week immersive experience to engage the public and businesses in waste reduction and recycling behavior change. The program has been a valuable opportunity for students. Nearly half of the 36 who have graduated from the program have gone on to work in the industry. They’ve impacted the community with education and outreach through more than 48,000 conversations with customers. This program has resulted in recycling increases of 3,532 tons and savings for our customers in disposal costs.

Through speaking with so many diverse people, networking with a broad range of recycling professionals and extensive training, I learned how impactful the waste system is on our community. Providing just a small amount of education on recycling makes a big difference. It was here that I found a new passion!

Holly
Recycle Corps 2014

Waste Management’s Recycle Corps is a valuable resource for our community. Through their engagement with the public, more residents are now aware of the recycling opportunities provided by Waste Management.

Frank
City of Tukwila, Washington

We worked with Recycle Corps at an apartment complex to increase recycling among residents. After Recycle Corps’ door-to-door campaign, we documented an increase in recycling and a savings of almost $20,000 annually through decreased garbage costs.

Jenna
King County Housing Authority