America does an extraordinarily poor job of recycling, made worse by poor communication. There is no coordinated nationwide strategy for recycling, nor any education on how recycling machines actually work. At my local recycling drop-off center, there’s a gigantic sign saying “NO PLASTIC BAGS.” It’s attached to a dumpster…that my fellow residents fill with recycling in plastic bags.
Outagamie County Recycling & Solid Waste in Wisconsin is combatting the problem–using TikTok. They’ve shot a whole series of short videos like this one, which shows the poor bastard who has to pull the plastic bags out of the machine works:
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That one got 92,000 views. Their video on “Materials that tangle up our disc screen separators,” which shows a worker having to use an angle grinder to cut electric cables, metal wire and even long receipts, got 122,000:
Recently OCRSW scored their first viral hit. About 2 million people watched this dramatized TikTok on why you shouldn’t throw holiday lights into the recycling:
To date the company’s TikTok account has nearly 500,000 likes, so hopefully the strategy is working.