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Subaru of America and Recycle Across America (RAA) have donated RAA’s standardized recycling label system to support the automaker’s zero landfill initiative currently being piloted at three national parks.

The donation aims to decrease landfill waste from parks by revitalizing recycling participation, replacing conflicting signs and messaging with the RAA system to help visitors recycle easily and effectively.

During a study of the waste stream generated at the three pilot parks — Yosemite, Grand Teton and Denali — researchers learned that among the highest volume of waste was paper, plastics and glass. Easily recycled materials were heading to the landfill instead of the recycling bins where it contributes to an inefficient use of landfill space and higher hauling fees.

After an audit of established recycling messaging and signage, the auditors discovered conflicting messaging and signage, making it difficult for visitors to identify the proper bins for trash, paper, plastics and glass. RAA’s standardized labeling system for recycling bins, an emerging best practice in the industry, was identified as a solution by Subaru and the National Parks Conservation Association.

Millions of tons of garbage are thrown into recycling bins each day due to consumer confusion at the bin, which increases the costs associated with processing the recyclables and harms the viability of recycling. In order to make recycling less confusing for the general public, RAA developed the first and only society-wide standardized labels for recycling bins in 2010. RAA labels use a consistent design, which includes, simple imagery, descriptions and color-coding to create an easy to understand recycling system.

The pilot program with the three national parks and their concession partners, provides an opportunity to evaluate the labels and determine if they improve recycling levels and lower the trash hauling fees at each park.

“Our research revealed that a shocking number of Americans are unaware of the waste management challenges facing national parks, but that many of them would be willing to make a significant effort to reduce the amount of trash left in parks,” said Denise Coogan, environmental partnership manager of Subaru. “At Subaru, we are committed to spreading awareness of these issues and helping make meaningful change in the parks. We are excited to be working with RAA and hope that these standardized labels will help to reduce confusion and increase proper recycling.”

Published in the January 2017 Edition of American Recycler News