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Report: Recycling campaign in Atlanta helped lower contamination rates

A project between a national nonprofit and the city of Atlanta helped improve recycling in the area, according to a press release. 

After Atlanta officials researched how much recyclable material was in the trash and vice versa, The Recycling Partnership determined that contamination rates were too high. In order to change consumer behavior, the city and the Partnership decided to “tip and tag” recycling carts to explain what is and isn’t recyclable and to remind residents to put recyclables in the carts loose — not bagged.

Recycled items are separated at a processing facility, and the only thing that should be bagged is shredded paper in a clear bag, the city’s website says.

Atlanta reportedly experienced a 62 percent decrease in bagged recyclables and a 27 percent increase in the overall recyclables capture rate in a matter of months.

William Johnson, the city’s deputy chief operating officer and department of public works commissioner, said he’s excited to build upon the “incredible” results. 

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“Atlanta is committed to increasing recycling participation, and now we have demonstrated a great template to help move the needle faster,” Johnson said in a statement


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The Virginia-based Partnership, which receives financial support of nearly 40 companies and foundations including Coca-Cola and Target, did similar projects with Chicago and Denver. Sarah Dearman, Coca-Cola North America’s sustainable packaging program director, said the work shows that partners can “meaningfully improve recycling, helping lead to stronger, more sustainable communities.”

Earlier this year, Coca-Cola announced long-term recycling goals, including attempting to recycle a bottle or can for every beverage it sells by 2030.


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