Over 90% of Wisconsin households recycle and have been doing so for years. People bring those habits to public facilities when recycling programs are easy to use and instructions are clear and prominent.

Make Recycling Logical

  • Create an easy-to-use Recycling Program
    • Collect recyclables in easy-to-spot bins that look noticeably different from trash receptacles.
      • Learn more about choosing effective recycling bins in the Considering Containers section of this guide.
    • ALWAYS place a trash can next to each recycling bin to limit contamination (contamination is incorrect trash in a recycling bin that lowers the value of the materials or makes them unacceptable for recycling).
      • Position recycling and trash bins so that people can see and reach both from many directions of approach and can use either without moving their feet.
      • Another way to control contamination is to empty trash before it overflows. People are reluctant to litter and will put trash in the wrong bin if the correct one is full.
    • Locate recycling bins where the crowd tends to discard recyclable materials . Don't put any where people have only trash to discard.
      • Plan for the lucky coincidence of a visitor passing a recycling bin right after finishing a bottled drink. Pinpoint convenient locations for recycling bins by watching visitors, noting locations where trash barrels contain many bottles and asking grounds crew members to observe.
      • Don't place recycling bins in restrooms or near hand washing stations.
      • Adjust bin locations to adapt to crowd behaviors and changes in vendors' products.
  • Use signs
    • Put big “Recycle Here” signs on the bins that can be seen from a distance. Put quick instructions for what to put inside on the bins near the bins' openings, to be read from a few feet away.
      • Keep signs brief, i.e., “Cans and bottles” rather than “Recycle aluminum, steel, glass and plastic only here.”
      • Your visitors will look for the place to put the one item they have in their hand – design signs to help them spot the information they need.
    • Make recycling signs for locations where recyclable materials are sold and places where people wait in line.
      • A good point of purchase sign could say “This vendor proudly recycles and encourages you to do the same.”

Ask for Participation

  • Use existing opportunities for announcements
    • Include a request for recycling in printed programs, schedules, maps of the grounds or similar booklets.
      • The message can be a simple one-liner like “Recycle at _______” or may include a list of recyclable materials and picture of the bins used. Out-of-state and international visitors may benefit from complete instructions; one would hope that this is not so essential with Wisconsin audiences.
      • Create a slogan connecting recycling to pride in your event and your membership in your community.
    • Use spare microphone time to encourage recycling.
      • Public address system messages that thank the crowd for participating and extol the success give the impression that recycling correctly is the normal behavior, not the exception.
      • Those who introduce performers or speakers can remind the audience to recycle. One popular performer's complementary words about recycling stirred up a significant increase in participation.
    • Put recycling announcements on projection screens or scoreboards.
      • Create trivia questions about trash, recycling, and the impact one person can have in making a difference for the environment.
      • Make a recycling slogan screen saver to display with projectors that speakers or performers will use.
    • Recruit vendors, crew members and volunteers to help spread the word.
      • Recycling t-shirts for a cleaning crew recognized the important role of the workers and added “walking billboard” to their service.
      • Many vendors are willing to remind customers to recycle; it's a welcome way to act on their compassion for the event and the community.
  • Create a buzz
    • Get attention with entertaining stunts and fun activities.
      • Costumed characters and trash fashions raise recycling awareness.
      • Make waste reduction the theme of a children's area activity, like a crafts-from-trash center, a recycling relay race or a plastic bottle toss game.
      • Reward recyclers. One venue equips cleaning crews with gift cards they randomly present to visitors caught recycling correctly.
      • Display a recycling sculpture, an array of new products made from recycled material collected at the site, tips for waste reduction at home, surprising facts – anything to raise awareness while enriching the visitor's experience.
  • Alert the media
    • When unveiling a new recycling program , announce it to the press. Get ideas from the media release templates provided in this guide.
      • Include a request for help in the form of participation from the public.
    • Once underway, publicize recycling and waste reduction success .
      • Thank those who helped and use the results to demonstrate the venue's commitment to the community it serves.

Evaluate and Adapt

  • Observe and get feedback
    • Walk around and check recycling bins to see if they contain the right materials . What kind of mistakes are people making? Also notice recyclable materials that go uncaptured in the trash.
      • Some mistakes stem from unexpected materials used at the site. An event that purchased recyclable stadium cups suffered a summer cold snap and bins marked, “Recycle Cups Here” filled with unrecyclable paper cups used for hot drinks.
      • Some mistakes stem from inconvenience. When there's no recycling bin in sight, people will put recyclables in the trash.
    • Get input from users of the recycling program.
      • Survey a few visitors. Do the instructions make sense and is recycling easy and convenient?
      • Ask cleaning crews to note the prevalence and kinds of contamination they see and when and where it occurs...
  • Make refinements to limit mistakes and raise participation
    • Use the troubleshooting tips provided in this guide
      • Many problems can be solved by repositioning bins.
    • Test new messages and set-ups and monitor the results.
      • People often respond to messages that ask them, as individuals -- not as a crowd -- to act.
      • Use feedback from visitors to craft new approaches to test.
    • Give directives to vendors if their materials or activities create recycling problems.
      • Some facilities specify the use of recyclable materials in vendor contracts.
    • Expand and limit the program as needed.
      • Are people ready for more? Go beyond recycling by encouraging reducing and reusing or give composting a try.
      • Is one location or time of day always plagued with unacceptable contamination? Given that failed recycling is no better than not recycling at all, consider moving recycling bins away at certain times – but try again periodically with new strategies. Keep a record of the problem for the purpose of compliance with Wisconsin's recycling law.

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