How Do Recycling and Other Low Impact Actions Drive Change?

A Cucumber

Written by guest blogger Mona Jensen. She works with companies that promote sustainability and a greener way of life.This article focuses on plastic recycling in regards to SDG 12.

Implementing a New Plastic Recycling Scheme

I work with waste management and it is my job to get about 90.000 people to recycle their waste. As part of this job, my team and I have just tested a new recycling scheme on 250 households. The scheme will be implemented in the entire municipality over a span of two years.

The reason we tested the scheme before implementing it was to make the transition as smooth as possible for all the people involved. Implementing a new recycling scheme is a complex process and a lot of things can go wrong. Therefore, we wanted to prepare as much as possible before the actual implementation of the new scheme.

Creating awareness about plastic recycling and its impact is vital in regards to the SDG 12. Therefore, I have spent the past few days meeting with involved citizens, gathering information, and getting feedback about the new recycling scheme.

Recycling bins

Challenges After Implementing Plastic Recycling in SDG 12

Imagine 250 households have been sorting their waste in a different way than they were used to. They have been doing this for six months, with only a handful of people in the municipality to guide them through it.

Most of them had to deal with inconvenience of buying new waste bins both inside and outside their houses. The participants had to sort their trash in the following categories: glass, metal, paper, bio, and other. However, metal and bio are two entirely new fractions of waste. Therefore, the citizens participating in the test have never done it before.

Hence, these meetings were both a place for feedback about recycling and a place for venting emotions, but more than that, they were a place for acknowledgement.

What Is the Real Problem: Recycling or Our Mindset?

No, recycling won’t save the planet, but it will get you thinking about it.

Mona Jensen

The people at the meeting have been sorting their waste for half a year and they have done a decent job recycling. However, the actual change is not in their litter bins – it is in their mindset.

plastic recycling in SDG 12

During both meetings, I overheard people debating how much packaging comes with their groceries, how much waste they produce in their everyday lives, and how many resources they use.

Why is there even plastic wrapping around a cucumber? I mean, do we really need all that plastic?

This made me happy. It is not about recycling. It is not about turning off the tap or switching off the light. Considering the bigger picture, that is not much of a change. However, these non-essential environmental actions open the door for change in one’s mindset.

By changing someones’s mindset and making them more aware of the problem, you can drive positive impact.

Plant the Seed and Be Ready to Water It

If you manage to make people aware of the environmental problems around us, you can always have an alternative course of action at the right time.

When it comes to increasing awareness about packaging and unnecessary waste, be ready to offer kind and helpful advice on how to cut down on packaging in general. For instance, by shopping at farmers markets and reusing grocery bags. Additionally, you could ask the person how much of their waste they think is possible to eliminate and how. Consequently, this will get them thinking about alternative actions within their own frame of reference and comfort.

If you plan for these moments of added awareness, you can have valuable tools ready for your audience, and help them make that change they so deeply want to make, but don’t know how to.

Browse through our previous blog post about SDG 12 – Responsible Production and Consumption for more insights on plastic production and plastic recycling in regards to SDG 12.

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