The U.S. has standard labels for nutritional information and hazardous materials. A group of lawmakers is now pushing for a standard set of recycling bin labels.
In October, a group of 17 members of Congress signed a letter to the EPA asking for the adoption of a national standard labeling system for recycling bins. They argue that a nationwide standard could help reduce confusion about where to toss trash and recyclables.
There could be impacts on your business from this letter. In this blog, we’ll cover more of what’s in the letter and consider how it could change your business recycling program(s).
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WHAT'S IN THE LETTER
Why shouldn’t there be a national standard for labels on recycling bins? That’s the central argument behind the letter sent to EPA Administrator Michael Regan in late September.
“Our recycling system is broken, and Americans have lost faith in recycling as a waste management solution,” the letter reads.
It cites a 2022 study that says 49% of Americans believe the current recycling systems do not work. That same study says 30% of people are not confident that what they’re putting into a recycling bin is getting recycled.
Creating a national standard for recycling bin labels would “work like road signs to show people what can be recycled in each bin.” Each municipality could tailor these labels to “educate consumers on what can and cannot go into every individual recycling can.”
The letter’s author(s) reference programs implemented in the National Park System and the Las Vegas School District as evidence of standard bin labeling works. Adding labels in Yosemite and Grand Teton national parks led to a reported 100% increase in recycling levels. Standard labels at schools in Las Vegas saved $6 million over two years “due to decreased trash hauling fees.”
“We urge you to establish a clear and cohesive standardized bin labeling implementation strategy and begin executing this plan,” the letter states. “These actions are effective and necessary to invigorate the circular economy while protecting our environment, climate, and public health.”
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WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOUR BUSINESS?
If the EPA does implement a national standard for recycling bin labels, it could increase the effectiveness of your company's recycling and waste diversion program in a domino effect.
The labels would include information about what is recyclable in each bin. That further educates your employees. Employees who understand your program(s), know why they are put in place, and experience the benefits of recycling are more confident in participating. Eliminating all doubt about what goes where and what items can be recycled in the first place goes a long way to getting your people to buy in.
Once they understand the reasons behind recycling, your waste program becomes easier for employees. That leads to increased diversion rates, cleaner recyclables, and materials that retain value. Clean, high-quality recyclables are in-demand as feedstock for many industries. Growth in the demand for recycled paper and plastic, for example, saw record-setting prices over the past year.
Not only can this increase how well your business’s recycling program works, but it can also lead to potential further cost savings. Diverting waste from the landfill means less waste has to be hauled away. Many waste companies tie costs to the volume of materials you’re throwing out. Additionally, with increasing landfill tipping fees, your business could save money there as well. Tipping fees are the cost landfill operators charge for waste to be dumped there, and it’s usually charged per ton.
Less waste being landfilled can mean a less expensive, more sustainable waste management program for your company.
HOW ROADRUNNER CAN HELP YOUR BUSINESS
More effective waste management can offer significant progress toward sustainability and your green goals. While there’s now somewhat of a push in Congress to establish a standard for recycling bin labels, it’s something you might want to consider for your program whether it comes to pass or not. It can lead to cost savings, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and even an improved ESG score. RoadRunner can help your company in every one of those areas.
At RoadRunner, the best waste diversion and recycling program is the one that seamlessly integrates into your business. Our powerful green technology engines are creating custom, unique solutions for clients that put truth to their environmental goals. Partnering with RoadRunner means your operations avoid “greenwashing” with transparent data.
See how RoadRunner’s solutions for your business can make a difference with your waste management program!