• Host: Amy Koonin (Rubicon) and guest host David Rachelson (Rubicon)
  • Guest: Mitch Hedlund (Founder of Recycle Across America)

Recycle Across America is a nonprofit organization that championed the creation of standardized labels that are being used on a global scale. The labels are used on recycling bins in order to aid in sustainability efforts and help close the loop on the circular economy.

Every day, the public nonchalantly throws tons of food waste, soiled materials, and plastics into recycling bins. That act alone contaminates the good recyclables, often ruining their potential to be recycled. Recycle Across America is here to reverse that process.

Recycle Across America has partnered with US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN for this year’s Super Bowl to create the opportunity for 66,000 fans and employees to properly recycle their items at the big game. RAA placed over 2,000 color-coded, and easy-to-read bins throughout the stadium.

When starting a sustainability program for your business, it’s vital to start with the basics of recycling.

Our host, Amy Koonin, and guest host David Rachelson, break it all down with Mitch Hedlund, the founder of one of Rubicon’s premiere sustainability partners– Recycle Across America.

On what sparked her passion for sustainability:

MITCH: “I was at the Chicago O’Hare Airport standing over a bin extremely confused as to where to put my trash, and in that moment a man walked up and literally threw a dirty diaper into the recycling bin where I was just about put my newspaper and my water bottle. He said, “it’s probably all going to landfill anyway”. As soon as that happened, I started multiplying that and saying “what if nobody is recognizing this issue yet?” And “what if this is a chronic issue across the US? What happens behind the bin or in composting”.

I was so curious as to why we were all so confused at the bin. So I started doing some research on the processes behind the bin and starting to see what the challenges are economically per recycling when we’re all making mistakes, and the results I found were devastating.”

On realistic and sustainable actions everyone can take to save our environment:

MITCH: “Recycling is truly the number one thing that we can do for our species to be sustainable on this planet.

It is really a bad math equation to have an exponentially increasing human population that tends to use and use and use without putting things back into the system to reuse. When you have a growing human species and you have limited finite natural resources for us to exist on, that is truly a bad math equation. There is nothing that compares to recycling when it comes to the ability to make our species truly sustainable on this planet. Not only for the environment, but for improving the economy, for mitigating climate change, for helping manufacturers who are truly wanting to close the loop, and even to help prevent waste from going into the oceans. So, recycling is really that home-run for all of us.”

On sustainability at the 2018 Super Bowl:

MITCH: “The most exciting thing for Recycle Across America right now is that our standardized labels are now in US Stadiums, and they’re going to be used for this year’s Super Bowl.

It’s all about color-coding systems, simple language, and very clear photos of what can go in the bins. They’ll continue to be used even after the big game, but we’re super excited for them to be used in the Super Bowl. Since we implemented the labels, they’ve already seen double-digit increases in the recycling levels and the recycling that we’ve seen in those bins is pristine.

This year’s Super Bowl is taking place in Minnesota, and it’s so cool to see the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport throwing up a standardized label starting at the airport before Super Bowl.”

On what to do when we’re doubting ourselves:

MITCH: “On a national level, part of our messaging is: “When in doubt, throw it out.”

I know that feels bad, but it’s better to make sure that all the things that you know are fully recyclable are going in the recycling bin instead of items that cannot. There are so many items that can contaminate a bin and the best course of action is to toss into the standard can. The more that we get those un-tainted basic items into the recycling bin and we just did that on a national level, it would dramatically change the environment.”

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