Trash Talk: Simplify What Goes In Your Recycling Bins

By Ben Ahrens Published on Apr. 21, 2023

In today's consumer-driven society, recycling has become an ever-increasing necessity. With the environment facing unprecedented challenges, government authorities and businesses alike are turning towards sustainable practices to mitigate the impact on our planet. Yet, despite the increasing importance of recycling, consumers globally still face many obstacles when it comes to recycling.

The complicated recycling system makes it difficult for even the most eco-conscious individuals to make a difference. Fortunately, with the rise of simplified recycling methods and practices, it's becoming easier for both consumers and businesses to embrace recycling without feeling overwhelmed or intimidated. This article delves into the need and rise of simplified recycling methods, why they're essential, and how they change how we recycle.

What do recycling practices look like currently?

The current state of recycling is a mixed bag. On the one hand, awareness about the importance of recycling has significantly increased over the years. Although the global plastic waste recycling rate remains dismally low at 9%, 2020 saw a tremendous opportunity amidst COVID-19-related lockdowns. As economic activity slowed, so did plastic use, with a remarkable 2.2% decrease in consumption noted; however, surging takeout packaging and medical equipment have countered this trend, notably driving up littering rates instead. Now as economies reopen around the world again, we see indications that plastics are also rebounding once more — caution is vital to managing its impact on our environment effectively.

RELATED: The Success Story of Litterati & The Alliance to End Plastic Waste

Many locations have also implemented measures to make recycling more accessible and convenient, such as single-stream and curbside pickup programs. However, there are still significant challenges to overcome. The contamination of recyclables remains a major issue, with items like plastic bags and food waste often mistakenly mixed in with recyclable materials. This can lead to entire batches of recycling being deemed unusable and sent to landfills. Moreover, some materials are simply not recyclable, and the cost and energy required to recycle certain materials outweigh the benefits. Therefore, while strides have been made in promoting recycling, much work still needs to be done to ensure a more sustainable future.

The need for simple recycling methods

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We all want to do our part for the environment, but it can be difficult due to confusing recycling instructions and contamination. Unfortunately, over 80% of items that were thought to have been disposed of sustainably are actually recycled incorrectly — of which it takes only 0.5% of contamination before the whole batch has to go to a landfill. Many towns and cities squander millions on avoidable landfill dumping each year when there are ways that everyone can become more informed recyclers with only minimal effort.

Startups streamlining recycling bins and methods for simple recycle

As our society becomes more and more eco-conscious, it's no surprise that new startups like Scrapp Recycling are emerging to make recycling more straightforward and accessible to everyone. With the issue of climate change taking center stage, companies like Scrapp are taking concrete steps towards a more sustainable future. It's now common to see innovative recycling programs and technologies that help reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. Scrapp's free-to-use recycling app, for instance, helps people navigate the sometimes confusing world of recycling by providing clear instructions on what can be recycled and where. In addition to this, Scrapp's educational tools, like their separation stations and impact claims, are instrumental in encouraging responsible recycling behavior among retailers and brands.

By leveraging the power of individuals, data scientists, corporations, and researchers to join forces towards a common goal — eliminating litter worldwide — Litterati is committed to creating an unimaginable future free from plastic waste. Backed by the National Science Foundation and featured at TED Talk events globally, this groundbreaking technology allows everyone everywhere to actively clean up our planet through geo-tagging photos of collected trash, making it measurable so tangible progress can be made with lasting results.

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Through an innovative collaboration with Plug and Play, Litterati was able to join forces with the Alliance to End Plastic Waste in their 2020 ALL_TOGETHER CLEANUP challenge. This ambitious campaign aimed to pick up 500,000 pieces of litter from Sept. 19 through Oct. 11 — but that target was quickly met with 250,000 extra. These joint efforts provided impactful solutions toward solving our plastic waste problem while demonstrating simple ways we can all help chip away at it together.

Scrapp and Litterati are helping to minimize the waste of all materials and packaging already out there in the world by enabling existing materials and packaging to be recycled into something better. Through their innovative technologies, Scrapp uses AI to help businesses identify where they can repurpose materials. In contrast, Litterati uses a tracking app to help people worldwide record and dispose of their litter responsibly. Both companies are making it easier for everyone to reduce their eco-footprint through recycling and proper waste disposal.

How are these simple recycling practices changing the way that we recycle?

To unlock the potential of a circular economy, brands must create incentives for consumers to recycle. Companies can build solutions that motivate consumer-driven behavior change by putting themselves in their shoes and understanding how they currently interact with recycling programs. These strategies should also be tailored to individual needs; one size only fits some when creating compelling motivations for participating in sustainability initiatives such as packaging reuse or collection efforts.

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When it comes to increased sustainability and reduced environmental waste, simplifying the recycling process is paramount. Thanks to the rising number of materials and packaging startups presenting new solutions, a collective effort for more accessible and efficient recycling can be achieved. In light of this, it's clear that businesses should choose systemic options that propel their sustainability initiatives further.

Looking to connect with the latest material technologies? At Plug and Play, we help you at every stage of your innovation journey in theNew Materials & Packaging industry. Reach out to connect with the most disruptive startups.