A new study suggests that recycling habits may be influenced by the condition of the papers, cans and other recyclable goods being handled. United States trends are pointing towards lower inclination to recycle in cases where a can is dented or paper is smudged and dirty, highlighting an unexpected sensibility that is reducing recycling rates and holding back countries like America at 60% capacity for many of their recyclable materials.
Facts and Figures – the Why of It All
Many people seem to be choosing to trash recyclable goods when their perceived value, shape or condition has been compromised, but why do people have this sensibility? Recycle bins are becoming more available by the month, but what happens when recycling bins are dismissed in favour of the rubbish bin?
It's important to note that the condition of a can or paper does not actually inhibit the recycling process. Cans are crushed, stripped and repurposed, and paper materials can be reused with any number of smudges and tears. This tells us that the condition of recyclable goods come from unconscious habits and misunderstandings about the fundamental principle of recycling materials, or that some would rather throw recyclables away rather than go to the effort of washing and putting into a recycling bin.
Information initiatives have had some impact. Studies were undertaken using a small pool of University students measuring their natural habits in what they recycled and what they didn't, and why. Since the condition of a recyclable good will not usually get in the way of the actual recycling process, informing people about their misconceptions can gradually help to stop the statistical bleedings on the recycling front. Countries that boast the highest rates of recycling are those countries that have a firm investment in, and grasp of, the recycling process. This tends to correlate with countries that have the largest supply of recycle bins, but a surplus of recycling bins alone can't stop this deep-seated misunderstanding of the recycling process.
Everyone can do their part by maintaining the condition of their own recyclable goods so that a family member, friend or co-worker doesn't neglect to recycle a tin can because it was unceremoniously flattened and left idle aside. If the condition of recyclable goods can impact the level of recycling, it falls down to citizens who care about reusing and repurposing their materials to keep those materials in good condition to precipitate better recycling averages, while a larger information initiative works to educate people away from their staunch sensibilities so that more recyclable goods can find their way into more recycling bins.
Every Person Can Make a Difference
Recycling processes are still developing and innovating new and exciting ways of making recycling more efficient and more sustainable, but the foundations of recycling are lost to many communities, and these foundations need to be reiterated in those communities suffering declines in recycling rates and recycling awareness. That dented aluminium has been putting a 'dent' in recycling rates is systemic of a much greater problem that lies in misunderstanding the core principles and practicalities of recycling. Areas that are being affected by this can launch information campaigns and take the personal responsibility of maintaining the condition of their own recyclable goods in the meantime, but larger initiatives may be necessary in countries like the United States and the UK where this sensibility has permeated on a large scale and may require some well-meaning public service campaigns aimed at righting this wrongheaded notion and correcting these harmful, wasteful habits. After all - recycle bins are only useful when they are actually being used.