The Psychology of Recycling
Why doesn’t everyone recycle? What will convince people to change their behavior and start recycling? Every day, Rumpke Recycling works with businesses, institutions and municipalities to implement successful recycling programs that must address these questions. We’ve been in the recycling business (officially) for more than 22 years, although our company’s founders were recovering and bailing metal as early as 1941. Our customers know they can turn to Rumpke for solutions.
Last month, I attended the annual Keep America Beautiful symposium to gather ideas for increasing recycling participation. The two-day agenda was packed with excellent speakers who provided insightful case studies and research for boosting results. I look forward to bringing these fresh ideas to our customers.
If you are responsible for coordinating a recycling program in your community, at home, school or work, here are some key concepts to keep in mind.
- The most successful recycling programs are rooted in psychology. There is at least 35 years of data on recycling behavior that can be helpful to understanding why people do or don’t recycle.
- Ensure the proper infrastructure is in place. Talk to your Rumpke Recycling representative to customize a cost-effective program with the appropriate containers and level of service.
- Find out what barriers could be standing in the way of success by asking your potential recyclers in a survey or focus group.
- Recycling is not a top priority for everyone. Make your recycling program fun for participants, not a chore.
- Create measurable goals. (How much waste do you want to divert from landfills? What percentage do you want to increase recycling tonnage?)
- There is no catch-all solution for recycling. Focus on segments of the population and how you can encourage a change in their recycling behavior.