Education, promotion drive cities’ OCC recycling efforts
Recovering old corrugated containers (OCC) for recycling is one of the most effective ways a community can reduce its solid waste, stream. In many cities and towns, programs for recycling OCC cost very little in terms of actual cash outlays. But, they do require some time and energy on the part of public officials to achieve public awareness of the programs and encourage participation.
In 1992, a highly effective OCC recovery program was implemented in West Hartford, Conn., a suburban community of 56,000. In the first year, more than 200 tons of waste were removed from the solid waste stream and tens of thousands of dollars in tipping fees were saved. The program continues to generate about 95 percent participation by residents, according to Recycling Coordinator Michael O’Malley.
Educating the residents of West Hartford was not costly. The community launched the program in 1992 with a town-wide mailing that contained guidelines for curbside recyclables, began separating their rating their OCC and placing the materials on top of curbside recycling bins along with old newspapers. The reminder and mailed to all households as a reminder of proper steps for OCC recycling. Mailings, flyers placed in recycling containers, school promotions and releases in the local press are all effective collection. Holding a high-profile event also helps to raise public awareness of OCC’s recyclability and promote it’s recovery. For example Pack aging Council, Rolling Meadows, Ill., has sponsored post-holiday recovery events, called Boxing Days, that link the gift-giving of the holidays with the idea of giving back to the environment.
The Boxing Days program has been implemented in North Kingstown, R.I., and Morristown-Hamblen County, Tenn. Enthussiasm both communities was high, with bailners and radio spots heralding the event. Posters were placed in schools, town halls and libraries, and local merchants jumped on the bandwagort, displaying instructions counters.
Before the event, school children learned to identify corrugated materials with the help of corrugated castles, forts and teepees custom-designed by members of the council. The council also provided students with handouts, printed on corrugated paper, to encourage their parents, participation.
Heightened community spirit, education of school children on the ease and benefits of recycling and a significant reduction in the municipal solid waste stream are possible results from the encouragement of OCC recycling. In 1996, the council plans to expand Boxing Days to at least five cities, and next year, based on experience at these sites, the organization will “package the program” providing start-up kits and other assistance to any municipality wishing to promote a Boxing Day event. The council currently has case study brochures and implementation guidelines available to cities and counties and can be reached at (800) 879-9777 or http://www.corrugated.org.