EGLE's innovative "Know It Before You Throw It" recycling campaign -- featuring the amusing antics of six rascally raccoons -- was named Recycling Campaign of the Year by Waste Dive, a leading industry news publisher based in Washington, D.C.
The Recycling Raccoons was a break from EGLE's historical approach to educational campaigns. It takes a humorous approach to reach a broad cross-section of people -- from children, to students, to parents and grandparents.
The award program recognizes the industry's top disruptors and innovators and looks for campaigns that are transforming the industry. Dave Savenije, editor-in-chief of Waste Dive's publisher Industry Dive, notes that award winners are "trailblazers and leaders in their markets. Their achievements in 2019 are shaping the future of where the latest strategies and trends are going."
The Know It Before You Throw It recycling campaign launched in June 2019. The Recycling Raccoon Squad educate about how clean recycling will reduce the amount of contaminated materials improperly going into recycling bins. The state also wants to double Michigan's recycling rate to 30% by 2025 and ultimately reach 45% annually. Through this campaign, EGLE has awarded 26 grants totally more than $5.96 million to community recycling efforts. The funding aims to improve recycling infrastructure and support development of emerging and new marketplace opportunities for recyclable materials in 16 counties covering every region of the state.
The raccoons were an immediate hit with the public, who are asking for the mascots to do public engagements, sign autographs and appear at birthday parties. Jill Greenberg, EGLE's public information officer, says that anecdotally, recycling centers have already seen an increase in recycling products.
"I have not seen this kind of positive reaction to anything that I've worked on in 29 years of doing this work," adds Jack Schinderle, director of EGLE's Materials Management Division.
Raccoon Carol Cardboard, reached yesterday gnawing on pie crusts inside a Dumpster in Ishpeming, said he was flattered by the honor. "That's great news," he said. "Now, if people will just flatten their cardboard before putting it in the bin, that'd be great!"
For more information, check out Waste Dive’s article.