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How to Establish a Local Recycling Project

Cutting down on the amount of waste generated across the United States is a crucial part of green living, so it makes sense to get the community involved in waste-reduction strategies, including recycling.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) operates the WasteWise Program to help organizations of all kinds — governments, businesses, nonprofits, hospitals, and so on — reduce their waste and their impact on the environment. The program is absolutely free and voluntary, and it’s very flexible, which makes it easier to convince your organization to give it a try.

There’s no reason that you can’t spearhead the creation of a local recycling project yourself. You don’t have to start big and tackle your entire city: Starting with a small project is easier to manage, and it provides an excellent building block for future, larger projects. From smaller projects at schools and workplaces to large systems for entire communities, the principal requirements are the same.

  • Type of recycling: Research the kind of recycling that’s possible for your target: Do recycling companies in your area take all or at least some of the usual suspects — paper, glass, aluminum cans, and plastics? Can you access a community-wide program that’s already in place? (For example, perhaps you can organize a recycling program for your apartment building that will feed into your town’s existing program.) Can you handle the recycling on a local level, as may be the case for composting?

  • Equipment: Decide what equipment you need in terms of containers for different kinds of material. How large do the containers need to be? How many do you need in order to be convenient to recyclers? Where should you place the containers, again thinking about convenience?

  • Transportation: Determine whether you need to arrange pick-up of the recycling materials and transportation to local recycling centers.

  • Sponsorship: Find local, state, or national programs or businesses that will help out with costs such as startup equipment and transportation.

  • Project management: Assign someone (or a team of people) responsibility for the ongoing management of the recycling program, including fundraising, cleaning containers, raising awareness, and monitoring the program’s success.

Establishing a recycling program may sound like a lot of work, but if you find some people who are as concerned as you are — possibly other parents at the school or other residents of the apartment building, — you can build a committee to share the work.

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