Atlanta launches campaign to reduce contamination in recyclables

Atlanta launches campaign to reduce contamination in recyclables

City teams up with The Recycling Partnership for a public service and on-the-ground campaign.

Photo: Dreamstime 

Atlanta’s Office of Resilience and Department of Public Works has begun working with The Recycling Partnership, a national nonprofit that applies corporate partner funding to improve curbside recycling systems in cities and towns across the country, to improve recycling in the city through the “Feet on the Street” public service and educational campaign.

The campaign launches July 24, 2017, as a pilot program in Atlanta, targeting one route in each of the city’s four quadrants. The campaign includes targeted messaging and direct feedback with the goal of reducing contamination in the city’s residential recycling bins and increasing the quantity and quality of recyclables.

Residents will receive direct mailings as well as be exposed to newspaper ads, social media posts and signage throughout town about what does and does not belong in their recycling carts. Additionally, city employees will walk each of the targeted recycling routes to “tip and tag.” They will tip the lids of recycling carts and tag those that contain contaminants. Contaminated carts will receive an informational “oops” tag that highlights the contaminant within, and the cart’s recyclables will not be collected. The effort to educate residents about what is recyclable has proven to substantially reduce contaminants in other cities, which saves cities money and makes the recycling process more efficient, The Recycling Partnership, which is based in Falls Church, Virginia, says.

“The city of Atlanta is working at the cutting edge of recycling, using specialized technology and smart collaborations to improve key aspects of service,” says Keefe Harrison, CEO of The Recycling Partnership. “We are proud to work with such a progressive partner and applaud Atlanta for taking on this large issue that is affecting cities across the U.S.”

The street team will log contamination via smartphone app provided by Rubicon Global, an Atlanta-based waste management company.

“When people put the wrong items in their recycling carts, handling those materials costs taxpayer dollars,” says Michelle Wiseman of Atlanta’s Office of Resilience. “We want to help our residents correct these issues and recycle right. Our city is quickly becoming an environmental leader—not just in the U.S. but [also] in the world—and better recycling is an important step on that journey.”