How companies and consumers can become recycling champions
What can companies do?
When it comes to recycling, especially large companies have an exemplary function. Here, schemes could reach from the sustainable production of goods and the implementation of a design meant for recycling. Especially packaging (plastic and non-plastic) should be designed in a specific way to make it easier to recycle. The EU has already set a framework: The first-ever ‘European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy’ details the necessity for designing plastic products in a way which fully respects the needs of reuse, repair, and recycling to thus boosts the market for recycled plastics.
Corporations as well as public leaders should also:
- support and promote the sustainable trade of recyclable materials to ecologically mindful companies,
- fulfill their responsibility to educate and raise awareness among the public for recycling as a community cause and an issue of global interest,
- develop and implement a common language of recycling worldwide, including the common use of materials, design and symbolism and
- establish the reuse of materials, the reduction of waste and the integration of an "end-of-life" functionality at a design stage.
To become true recycling champions, companies should additionally support innovation, research and small initiatives, which advocate for better recycling practices in our economy.
What can individuals and consumers do?
On a personal level, the mantra should always be: reduce, reuse, recycle. If you buy something new, use products more than once or repurpose them after use. As simple examples, keep plastic bags to use them as trash bags or organize your wardrobe with old shoe cartons.
The Global Recycling Foundation lists these measures to become a recycling citizen:
- Use less things of plastic and metal (especially single use items),
- help friends follow the recycling rules,
- rediscover, repair, reuse or upcycle old objects or clothes,
- only put clean, dry items in the recycling box or bag,
- share your experience online with friends and family and
- don't forget to recycle other materials like electronics.
There are multiple ways to integrate recycling in both our personal lives and on a corporate level. On today’s Global Recycling Day we are once again prompted to rethink the way we currently treat our resources, to reconsider what we throw away and acknowledge the worth of waste – which in fact is highly valuable and a resource for something new. We all have a role to play and can collectively make a difference.
Happy Global Recycling Day!