Greater Awareness

Departments - Editor's Column

May 6, 2013
Brian Taylor

Brian Taylor


People attached to municipal curbside recycling programs often use the word “awareness” to describe the process of making sure people know what they can recycle and how they can recycle it.

To a healthy extent, the past 20 years have witnessed significant growth in awareness by this definition. In communities throughout the United States—and indeed the world—people tend to know the core postconsumer recyclables and have been willing to place these materials in their recycling containers.

Readers of this publication are likely to be keenly aware of what is involved in preparing these materials for melting, pulping or pelletizing. Beyond those in Recycling Today’s audience, however, these industrial processes are largely unknown.

Recycling advocates have succeeded in part by creating educational programs for schools. U.S. grade school students are likely to learn at a young age that aluminum and steel cans, newspapers and plastics bottles are candidates for the recycling bin.

A new curriculum is being introduced that will provide some very important follow-up lessons to these existing materials.

Volunteers from several groups, including members of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Inc. (ISRI), are spearheading the JASON Project, designed “to develop a secondary school curriculum to help teachers and students understand both the importance of recycling and the recycling industry.” (The volunteers involved in this project include Recycling Today Media Group Publisher James R. Keefe.)

The first round of classroom posters through the JASON project are available to teachers through

The intention is for ISRI and its JASON Project allies to build on these initial efforts. “The campaign includes branded, standards-based K-12 curricular experiences; interactive Web-based experiences to enhance student engagement; classroom posters featuring ISRI’s key educational messages; a leveraged national distribution network; strategies for school visits to ISRI facilities; age-appropriate lessons for grades K-4, 5-8 and 9-12; for each grade band, a two- to four-page classroom lesson based on life cycle for each commodity; and much, much more,” according to the ISRI website.

Ideally, young people with knowledge of how recycling ties in to almost anything they discard or buy means they will have a much greater understanding of why a scrap yard or material recovery facility (MRF) is not a waste facility but rather a resource-protecting, job-creating manufacturing plant.