November 15, 2022

Blog by Angelina Brandt, Director of Sustainability 

America Recycles Day is the only nationally-recognized day dedicated to promoting and celebrating recycling in the United States, with the goal of educating and encouraging individuals on how to be more mindful of what they consume, where and how to recycle properly, and to pledge to recycle more in their everyday lives (KAB, 2022). The Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency (UCRRA) recognizes the many economic, environmental, and social benefits of recycling in our communities. Recycling reduces solid waste sent to landfills, saves energy, prevents pollution, and conserves natural resources. Recycling also creates green jobs, promotes a more circular economy, reduces litter in our communities, and has many other benefits. America Recycles Day is an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of recycling, and the challenges facing our nation’s recycling system of the future. And it’s a great opportunity to learn about the resources UCRRA’s Recycling Outreach Team offers to the residents, businesses, community groups, and municipalities we serve.

Last year, curbside collection and drop off programs recovered over 20,518 tons of regulated recyclable materials in Ulster County – that’s over 41 million pounds of recyclables!

Whether you recycle curbside, or utilize your local Recycling Drop Off Center, it’s very important to recycle the correct items. If you are unsure if an item is acceptable for recycling, contact your service provider and ask for your Recycling Guidelines.  When the wrong items are placed into the system or prepared the wrong way, it can damage equipment, harm workers, and ruin the value of other recyclables.

Here are some universal tips to help prepare recyclables correctly:

  • Rinse containers clean and dry
  • Do not put hazardous waste (chemicals, SHARPS, etc.) into the recycling bin
  • Break down carboard boxes and remove any inner packaging
  • Keep 3D containers in their 3D shape (do not flatten bottles and jugs)
  • Keep items loose (do not bag up recyclables)
  • Recycle film plastics and plastic bags at your local grocery or retail supercenter

It’s estimated that UCRRA’s handling of municipal solid waste for its final disposal accounts for 4% of Ulster County’s greenhouse gas emissions. According to EPA, every ton of waste recycled instead of landfilled saves 2.89 metric tons of CO2!

With widespread community engagement and recycling participation, we can reach even greater milestones for waste diversion, lowering Ulster County’s carbon footprint, and creating a culture of sustainability that values being a good steward to our natural environment and resources. America Recycles Day is a great time to encourage others around you to recycle correctly. Whether you are at work, at school, at your local community center, or at home, there are many ways to help increase recycling in group settings.

Here are some recycling best practices to keep in mind:

  • Make sure a recycling bin is always located directly next to every trash bin.
  • A central recycling station is preferred over individual desk-side recycling bins.
  • Make sure recycling bins are cleaned regularly and are well-maintained.
  • Recycling bins should be clearly labeled. Contact UCRRA to request free recycling bin stickers!
  • If possible, color-code bins (blue=recycle, black=trash) or make sure each recycling bin looks consistent in size, color, etc.
  • Use signs or images to identify what materials can be recycled. Contact UCRRA to request free recycling bin posters!
  • America Recycles Day (ARD) is a great time to remind people about recycling by circulating office memos, posting about ARD on social media, or by hosting a community recycling event or educational class about the benefits of recycling and waste reduction.
  • Periodically share your recycling stats with your group to motivate them to recycle more! Contact UCRRA to schedule a class or tour of our recycling center for your group! 
  • When in doubt, ask. Contact your recycling service provider to ask about recycling guidelines.

In 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published findings on the economic benefits of the recycling industry. This study analyzed the numbers of jobs, wages, and tax revenues attributed to recycling practices nationwide. The study found that…

… each year, recycling and reuse activities in the United States accounted for 681,000 jobs, $37.8 billion in wages, and $5.5 billion in tax revenues. This equates to 1.17 jobs for every 1,000 tons of materials recycled.

Recycling is important to our state’s economy and as we celebrate America Recycles Day, UCRRA joins hundreds of industry leaders across the nation who wish to celebrate the incredible workforce that supports the essential public service of materials management. Working in our industry is too often a thankless job, though no one can deny the benefits to public health and our environment when waste and recyclables are managed correctly! With your support, proper sanitation practices help keep our communities clean and free of litter, increases recycling and waste reduction, and improves the lives of the residents we serve every day. UCRRA recognizes the dedication in every sanitation worker and we thank you for all you do!

You can be a leader, too. Take the America Recycles Day Pledge Now!

Help share this message with your friends, family, and coworkers, and let’s unite to recycle right!

Additional Resources for America Recycles Day –

Recycle Right NY Campaign 

The Recycling Partnership 

Visit our media library

Visit our A-to-Z Recyclopedia

Learn more about our educational services

ARD 2021 Be Recycled Poster A

ARD 2021 Be Recycled Poster B

ARD 2021 Be Recycled Poster C

ARD 2021Recycling Facts Energy

ARD 2021 Aluminum _ Glass Facts