Standardized recycling signs introduced in Minnesota

Inconsistent and often confusing signage on recycling bins in the United States has been an issue since the introduction of recycling in the United States twenty-plus years ago. The Recycle Across America website introduces and provides standardized signage to help eliminate confusion, improve capture rates and improve the quality of materials being collected.

“There are literally thousands, if not millions of variations of signs on recycling bins across the country,” said Mitch Hedlund of Recycle Across America. “This inconsistency has led to frustration, mistakes, contaminated contents, valuable recyclable materials ending up in landfills and ultimately, inaction. Since the signs can be applied to existing bins, purchasing new bins is not necessary.”

According the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) in just one school district, improved consistency in recycling practices throughout their 15 school buildings resulted in a 47 percent increase in capture rates.

“Many other state recycling organizations like the Recycling Association of Minnesota (RAM) are promoting this voluntary approach to use standardized recycling signs. Every time another school or business uses the signs, it helps spread the message nationwide. Eventually as you travel cross-country you’ll start to see the same signs being used everywhere,” stated Ellen Telander, executive director of RAM.

The standardized signage initiative was proposed by UPonGREEN Environmental Advancement Foundation at the recycling industry’s 2009 RAM/SWANA Conference and Show in Minneapolis. As a result, the solution has been embraced and eagerly adopted by national industry leaders who recognize the positive and long-lasting impact such an effort can have on society, the environment and the overall practice of recycling.

Any business or organization interested participating in this initiative to help expedite environmental progress and eliminate confusion can visit to print the signage themselves at no cost or they can place an order to have the signs professionally printed on heavy-duty materials. An organization or a business’s logo can also be added to the signs.