CM: WGP Credit – Education and Engagement Program on Litter and Source Reduction and Reuse

WGP Public Participation KPI

WGP Credit: Education and Engagement Programs on Litter & Source Reduction and Reuse 

(2 points, Reciprocal)

Credit Summary

WGP Credit: Education and Engagement Programs on Litter & Source Reduction and Reuse aims to reduce litter and waste generation and disposal through public education and Local Government Employee training programs. This can be accomplished through the implementation and publication of various educational programs on inbound contamination and on source reduction, reuse, and disposal. 

Impact Summary

Litter can be incredibly harmful to the environment, human health, and the economy, both local and global. About 1.9 billion tons of litter end up in oceans every year. Animals can often become trapped in or sick by plastic litter which is harmful to ecosystems and biodiversity. Litter also impacts human health, as it tends to attract pests and rodents that carry harmful diseases.¹ It also impacts property values, the businesses within an area, and tourism revenues.¹ Litter is very impactful to the environment, health, and economy and educating and engaging the public in litter reduction can greatly reduce the amount of litter produced and ensure that waste is properly disposed of. 

Submittal Summary

To meet this requirement, a local government or industry must include proof of their educational program and of sample program materials. This includes information on curbside collection, drop-off locations, and Household Hazardous Waste. In the case that a city/county does not have the capacity/ability to create these materials, they must partner with environmental education groups such as the state’s Recycling Organization or Department for Environmental Quality. 

Case Study and Benefits 

A relevant program in Arkansas’ Washington County, in which cigarette butt voting bins were used to encourage smokers to dispose of cigarettes properly, was implemented with great success and noticeably reduced cigarette waste in Washington County. Patagonia’s clothing repair bus is another example of an educational campaign that successfully reduced waste while educating the public on its importance. 

Other resources

Referenced Standards & Definitions

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Intent and Requirements

Intent 

To reduce litter and waste generation and disposal through public education and Local Government Employee training programs.

Local Government & Industry Requirements

Implement Local Government or Company Employee Training Programs.

Publish and promote online resources that provide an overview of the overall waste management program and the material management process occurring at facilities owned by the Local Government or the Company.

Educational Program(s) on Inbound Contamination

Develop education and/or information programs on inbound contamination.

Demonstrate that the information can reach at least 80 percent of the customers in the Local Government’s jurisdiction or in the Company’s service area.

  • Provide on-site public educational tours of the waste management facilities operated by the Local Government or the Company.
  • Conduct Local Government or Company staff training programs on waste prevention.
  • Training programs to teach EPP (environmentally preferable products) requirements guidelines in Local Government or Company procurement.
  • Develop and/or develop procurement collaboratives to share guidelines for EPP with procurement departments of various departments or other institutions, such as local school districts, as well as retail establishments.
    • In the case that a city/county does not have the capacity to create these programs, partner with a product stewardship organization(s), such as PSI or NSAC for support.
    • Post the plan and strategy on the Local Government jurisdiction or Company’s website.
    • Send out regular emails and links to the EPP section of the Local Government’s or Company’s internal website.
    • Social media campaign/marketing on multiple platforms 

Education Programs on Source Reduction, Reuse, and Disposal 

Develop education and/or information programs on source reduction, reuse, and proper materials disposal. Demonstrate that the information can reach at least 80 percent of the customers in the Local Government’s jurisdiction or within the Company’s service area.

The educational components should include the following:

  • A website and physical materials, e.g. calendars & refrigerator magnets, that are regularly distributed and posted in public areas.
  • Social media campaign/marketing on multiple platforms
  • Example tools and materials include school modules, educational activities designed for both children and adults, downloadable PDF posters clearly listing materials accepted in recycling streams, etc. e.g. Marking storm drains that empty directly into local water bodies.
    • Demonstrate that information about the program is accessible to 80 percent or more of the community and/or customers in the Company’s service area.
    • Establish ongoing litter prevention and reduction efforts which may include any of the following: government or civic based community organization, youth and adult education programs including behavior change campaigns such as messaging in the community or Company’s service area (i.e. slogans such as “Don’t Mess with Texas”).
      • Option 1: Pursue as an independent entity.
      • Option 2: Partner with an organization (i.e. non-profit)
  • Promote litter prevention through sponsored area cleanups (i.e. parks, beaches, highways, etc.).

Required Information:

Information on how to reduce material consumption and channels for reuse of materials:

  • Current list of materials accepted for curbside collection (link to another credit later on).
  • Current list of materials not accepted for curbside collection.
  • Drop-off locations for materials not accepted curbside.
  • Information on Household Hazardous Waste.

In the case that a city/county does not have the capacity/ability to create these materials, Partner with Environmental Education groups such as the state’s Recycling Organization or Department for Environmental Quality; or other nonprofits.

The Big Picture

Why We Care

Litter is waste that does not end up in a bin or landfill, and can be detrimental to ecology, health, and the economy. About 1.9 billion tons of litter end up in oceans every year. Animals can often become trapped in plastic litter, such as plastic bags. This makes it likely that they will either suffocate or drown, and could also potentially cause infection. The death of these animals is bad for them, as well as the entire ecosystem they are a part of. Litter also impacts human health, as it tends to attract pests and rodents that carry harmful diseases.¹ The US spends about 11.8 billion dollars, with businesses paying an additional 9.1 billion annually on litter clean-up. It also impacts property values, the businesses attached to an area, and tourism revenues.¹ Litter is very impactful to the environment, health, and economy and educating and engaging the public in litter reduction can greatly reduce the amount of litter produced and ensure that waste is properly disposed of. 

How to Meet the Requirements

  • Ballot bins (fun questions for people to vote with their litter).
  • Slogans that curb littering behavior (e.g. Don’t Mess with Texas; “Dunna Chuck Bruck”: sample programs that put the community first in litter prevention campaigns).
  • Promote public education programs that:
    • Encourage, amplify and reinforce residents to utilize waste reduction infrastructure, such as ‘tool libraries’, ‘repair cafes’, and corporate sponsored programs (e.g. Patagonia repair bus), etc.
    • Teach the public how to reduce consumption and reuse products.
  • Excess packaging; product durability; buying used, etc.
  • Post notice of products available for reuse, etc. online and in Waste Exchanges
  • Education programs on Food Waste Prevention & reuse geared toward children, families and businesses.
  • Public information on existing partnerships/programs with companies that handle Hard-To-Recycle Items (e.g. Best Buy’s TVs recycling programs, Terracycle, etc.)

Required Documentation

Include proof of: 

  • Educational programs on inbound contamination programs 
  • Samples of program materials, evidence of broad reach of programs 
    • Such as: billing insert that goes to all residences and businesses, website with push notifications, etc 

Case Studies & In-Depth Information

In 2015, Patagonia launched a campaign in which they repaired clothing — Patagonia and more — in a bus, driven across the country. The company already offers a lifetime repair offer on their items, but acted upon this promise by traveling to different states to repair consumers’ clothing. Their converted biodiesel truck (with solar panels) mainly served to spread awareness about their policy, as well as the benefits of repairing clothing rather than showing it out. Patagonia aimed to inspire people to wear their clothing longer, as wearing an item of clothing for just nine months longer can reduce the related carbon, water, and waste footprints by 20-30%.² This campaign was a success in educating the public on waste reduction infrastructure, like that at Patagonia.³ 

Arkansas’ Washington County has implemented cigarette ballot bins to reduce litter and educate the public regarding waste reduction. Cigarette butss account for abot 32% of litter found in storm drains, taking anywhere from 18 months to 10 years to fully break down. These ballot bins incentivize residents to dispose of their litter by voting for a topic through their choice of disposal bin. With the installation of just seven of these bins, local residents and business owners have noted that cigarette waste has decreased dramatically. These bins act as an educational tool for people to not only dispose of their waste in an engaging way, but see how much waste they produce and how much litter they have the potential to reduce. The cigarette waste is ultimately recycled by specialty facilities at no extra cost or fees.¹  

Above is an example of waste ballot bins, where individuals can vote on a topic with their trash, as implemented in Washington County. 

 

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Referenced Standards

N/a

Definitions

Environmentally Preferable Products (EPP)

TRUE Definition: “A concept that melds procurement and environmental sustainability into an environmentally conscious purchasing strategy, utilizing multifaceted environmental purchasing factors”

EPA Definition: Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) Program participates in consensus standards development to provide greater market clarity and definition around the manufacture and purchase of goods and services which are environmentally preferable and then supports the uptake of those standards in procurement.”

Duke Finance Definition: A policy that gives preference to products that have a lesser or reduced negative effect on human health and the environment when compared to competing products that serve the same purpose. This comparison may consider raw materials acquisition, production, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, reuse, operation, maintenance, and disposal of the product. This term includes recyclable products, recycled products, and reusable products.

Sample SWEEP Definition: A set of purchasing guidelines that facilitates the purchase of products and materials that minimize harmful effects to the environment from their production, transportation, consumption, and disposal while performing the same function as more environmentally harmful alternatives.

Food Waste

CalRecycle Definition: Refers to all surplus food scraps. The term has fallen out of favor with some composters, who prefer to view this material as a resource rather than as waste material. However, this term is interchangeable with food scraps.

CalRecycle ‘Food Scraps’ Definition: All excess food, including surplus, spoiled, or unsold food such as vegetables and culls (lower quality vegetables or trimmings such as onion peels or carrot tops), as well as plate scrapings. Food scraps also are commonly called food remnants, food residuals, or food waste.

Hard-To-Recycle Items

PRC Definition: Hard to Recycle is any item that you cannot easily recycle in your curbside collection program, such as tires, Freon-containing appliances, fluorescent tubes, etc.  These items, in some cases, cannot be placed in landfills, as they can leach harmful chemicals when not recycled properly. While these materials may not be acceptable in your curbside recycling collection, there are options available for collection at many special collection events and drop off locations. 

Household Hazardous Waste

EPA Definition: leftover household products that can catch fire, react, or explode under certain circumstances, or that are corrosive or toxic. Products, such as paints, cleaners, oils, batteries, and pesticides can contain hazardous ingredients and require special care when you dispose of them.

NSAC

NSAC Definition: The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is an alliance of grassroots organizations that advocates for federal policy reform to advance the sustainability of agriculture, food systems, natural resources, and rural communities.

PSI

PSI Definition: PSI Environmental Systems is a waste disposal service located in Twin Falls, ID.

Waste Exchanges

SWANA Definition: Organization or service that facilitates or arranges for recyclable materials or discarded materials from various generators or industries to be recycled or reused by others.

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