Orlando residents are continuing to embrace recycling, but there’s still work to be done when it comes to sorting the waste from the recyclables.
Recycle Across America, a national nonprofit with the goal of simplifying and standardizing recycling and waste bin labels, is offering six free labels for up to 700 Orlando businesses to help people better understand what waste goes where and reduce rates of contaminated recyclables.
It’s all about putting recycling in the right bins, said Andrea Ruiz-Hays, director of strategic alliances for Recycle Across America.
“There is way too much trash in our recycle streams, and some places are no longer offering recycling because they’re contaminated,” she said. “The labels or designs might be confusing, and people might not be sure what to put in the bin. Then, people are thinking, ‘Oh, this looks like plastic,’ or ‘Oh, this looks like metal,’ and just make an educated guess or just put the item in the trash.”
These labels have clear images of what’s acceptable in the bins and include short descriptions, and they were made available for free through a U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation grant.
“The images speak for themselves, and that way they’re multilingual, too,” Ruiz-Hays explained. “It’s so needed for somewhere like here in Central Florida. You have people coming from all over, and it’s critical to communicate how to recycle correctly.”
Businesses can order three recycling and three trash labels and have them delivered. Additional labels are available for a nominal fee.
The City of Orlando already has adopted placing the labels on bins in parts of downtown Orlando and at certain parks and recreational areas throughout Central Florida.
“Our partners who adopted the labels have seen double or triple the diversion rate,” Ruiz-Hays noted. “It’s a great opportunity for local businesses to join in. Their employees and customers are seeing the signage throughout the city.”
Previously, Bank of America donated thousands of Recycle Across America labels to Orange County Public Schools. In the first year, its recycling levels increased 90% due to the standardized labels.
“With more than 157 languages and dialects spoken, the Recycle Across America labels have made ‘recycling right’ universally understood for our students and staff,” said Jennifer Fowler, director of environmental compliance at Orange County Public Schools in a release. “Since July 2016, Orange County Public Schools has increased recycling by over 5,000 tons. In addition, the recycling program saved the school district over $1 million in expenditures during the 2017–2018 school year alone.”
There’s much work to be done, but increasing awareness of proper recycling practices through clear labeling is a step in the right direction, said Ruiz-Hays.
“The average person wants to do the right thing,” she said. “We’re trying to give access to everyone.”
To order your six free 4×9 labels for your business, visit recycleacross america.org/labels and use promo code “OrlandoRecycles.”