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Community Recycling Champions - Volunteer-Collect-Deliver.

Many neighborhoods don't offer recycle pickup services. What if we nudged people to volunteer - on a rotation basis - as collection agents for their neighborhoods? (Partly inspired by openIDEO's community champions idea)

Photo of Priyanka Kodikal
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Explain your idea in one sentence

Volunteer as a recycling champ to help your community recycle better, together. (tagline adapted from OpenIDEO)

Joe is checking his email (or paper mail) and notices an email (or paper mail) from his city council: "The city of RR and Coca Cola Enterprises want you to be a recycling champion in your community!"

Coca-cola has reached out to recycling centers with an idea to help increase recycling in their area.         

Joe is curious about the program and decides to give it a try. The recyecling center is only 3 miles away, so he signs up to volunteer for his street, which has 8 houses. The system assigns him a champ ID. Now he is on a bi-weekly schedule to collect and deliver recyclable items to the recycle center.

Joe informs his neighbors that he volunteering to pick up their recycle every other Saturday at 7 am.

It's the first Saturday and Joe is ready to collect the items. The neighbors have bagged their recyclables and placed them on the curb. Joe picks up the bags and takes them to the RR recycle center. On delivery, he gets a "Champ Stamp". (perhaps a reward for every 6 champ stamps?)

Joe enjoyed his first was easy and didn't take much effort :)

Describe how your idea would help form new habits and improve recycling at home

Although many people like the idea of recycling at home, disposing those items can be a challenge. Many neighborhoods still don't offer a recycle pickup service, and people have to be really motivated to haul their bags to the recycling center. What's easier? Just dump them in the trash bin! Hopefully having recycling volunteers will make it convenient for more people to recycle, and help reduce such behavior.

How might you design an early, lightweight experiment to further develop your idea?

We sort of prototyped this at my old workplace. We asked employees to separate recyclables from their trash and put it in the new recycle bins. Next, we sent out an email seeking volunteers for "recycle rangers". We asked for three per floor and a couple of backups. Their job was simple: when the recycle bin fills up, empty it and take the bag to the facilities center on the first floor. The facilities' associate would later drive the bags over to the recycling center. Response was great! We were truly amazed by the number of folks wanting to help and do the right thing....when it is convenient to do so.

What aspects of your idea could benefit from the input of our OpenIDEO community?

Do you think this idea works? Any suggestions on improving /amending/collaborating would be awesome!


Join the conversation:

Photo of Alice Lo

Great idea for having recycling champs at residential areas or workplaces - this provides a bridge between household recyclers and recycling collection centers in places where recycling pickup is not available.

Will information be available for the recycling champs so they know when to go pick up the recycled trash and where to drop the trash off? Your idea reminds me of a "bread running" activity in Hong Kong in which day-old bread at bakeries is collected and transported by volunteering "bread runners" and delivered to food banks for people in need. The activity uses an online ticketing system to coordinate pick-up/drop-off time and locations:

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