World Clean Up Day: A start of the recycling journey

Billed as the biggest one-day civic action in human history the organizers expect millions of people in 180 countries to participate each year. 19 September was 2020’s World Clean Up Day. It certainly draws attention to our environment and clears mountains of refuse. But is it enough?

To be effective in cleaning up the world we need a change of culture. If World Clean Up Day is the start of a culture change then we are all for it. In our experience, culture trumps most other forms of change.

An example of a change in recycling culture proves the point. We are often called upon to assist organizations introduce a waste management system. A crucial part of any system is to teach people to recycle. There will always be individuals in an organization who inherently believe in recycling. It may be a secretary who saves her used paper and then either reuses it or takes it to a drop off site to be recycled. There are any number of unsung champions.

These individuals do not represent the culture of the organization however. Maybe the organization is a manufacturing operation and the managers are incentivized by meeting production quotas. In such an organization very little attention is usually paid to waste or cleaning up production processes.

World Clean Up Day draws attention to waste, but is it enough?

There are several ways to address this. Buying new containers and clearly marking them as general waste and recyclables seldom works. It costs a lot of money with little return – but it looks good. A more effective way of cleaning up the waste and learning to recycle is to change the organization’s culture.

Which is why we prefer to first grab the hearts of the individuals and get them excited about the benefits of eliminating waste and recycling. Once converted the individuals will quickly change the organizations culture. That is the time to install the new containers.

In addition to the core matters of removing waste and recyclables we also attend to the soft issues like training. Over time Smart Waste has perfected its training courses. These range from board room presentations to senior managers to toolbox type talks with factory workers. No two organizations are the same so we adjust our training to the client’s needs.

Smart Waste lives World Clean Up day, everyday!

If the client is new to recycling and wants a program for the entire organization it is better to start with senior management. We can show videos from other countries as well as local showing the benefits of recycling – monetary and ecological. Getting the buy in from senior management is essential if the entire organization is to change.

If the client already has a program in place we can provide a practical training program for   managers and staff. This is always done in house to take account of the working conditions. A factory floor room differs from a restaurant kitchen. For the training to be relevant it must deal with the daily work routine in a practical way.

Training can be provided in a number of languages and is usually done in short sessions so as not to interfere with the business of the client. Refresher courses are also available as are training courses for specific materials.

If the World Clean Up Day helps individuals understand the part each of us plays in generating waste and the effects of such waste on our environment it will have been successful. Once the understanding is there then communities and organizations will be ready to start cleaning up our world. Whenever that happens Smart Waste will be standing by to help educate and train the converts.

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Picture: World Clean Up Day