On the surface, everyone should be motivated to recycle. We all share the natural resources on this planet and by now, it should be understood that those resources are finite. So why is it so difficult to motivate people to place their waste into the proper collection containers? And beyond that, why is it so challenging to convince people to choose a recyclable product over a disposable product?
I’ve worked in sales at Closed Loop Recycling (CLR) for over five years, and have helped hundreds of manufacturing customers implement our PPE and absorbent recycling programs. In all those calls, meetings, and training sessions, I have found that the biggest bottleneck to a successful recycling program is simply the natural human tendency to embrace the status quo and resist change. It takes less effort to be reactive than proactive. It’s more convenient to consider present needs than plan for future needs. And it’s easier to “sit tight” than take action.
So what does this mean? It means that we, as the recycling professionals, need to create a system that makes it easier and more rewarding to reuse and recycle than it is to throw away and grab new materials. We need to specify the ways that seemingly small choices affect the world around us, and we need to tangibly reward employees that are making a difference. No matter how unique the recycling program, I have noticed four common themes that are crucial to a successful sustainable culture change.