Earth Day and Promotional Opportunities for Recycling

First launched in 1970, Earth Day is celebrated on April 22. According to the Earth Day website, over 1 billion people around the world participate in the event, which is promoted by numerous groups in many countries. Participation in the U.S. includes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, communities and businesses.

Speaking of the latter, this article looks at the opportunity for recycling businesses to promote recycling activities in conjunction with Earth Day celebrations.

It looks to address the question as to whether this a direction that recycling providers should entertain, and considers the benefits and pitfalls of a marketing tie-in. Let’s look further.

Benefits of an Earth Day Connection

Let’s face it. Many people in the recycling business have core beliefs around environmental responsibility and activism. They “walk the talk” every day on the job. As such, Earth Day creates an opportunity to promote community recycling in a way that helps sustainability, and which may benefit their businesses in the process. The fact that so many people celebrate Earth Day, and that presumably many experience a heightened environmental consciousness during this period that they do not at other times of the year, it seems reasonable that more people would be receptive to a positive environmental story, and more motivated to participate. For example, we see business participating in recyclable material collection initiatives such as an e-waste or old battery gathering drives.

Indeed, April is celebrated as “Earth Month,” which gives a broader window for such an approach.

Given this window of opportunity, successful promotions by organizations involve assisting communities in coming together to recycle through collection and educational opportunities, making them more knowledgeable about recycling and more attuned to taking the small steps necessary to make every day recycling a success.

Typically this involves opportunities to recycle tough-to-recycle items, or educational initiatives to help promote recycling such as plant tours or other teaching aids.

One of many companies to utilize Earth Day as a recycling tie-in is Sims Recycling Solutions, a major recycling provider that supports the event. While the company recycles e-waste annually to the tune of 810,000 tons, Steve Skurnac, President, Sims Recycling Solutions, Americas states that it is important to support and promote a day such as Earth Day because it encourages people to set aside a small amount of time to make e-waste recycling a priority.

"We hope through our global Earth Day efforts that Sims can help motivate residents in communities all over the world to make use of their available electronics reuse and recycling options to safely and responsibly dispose of old devices,” Skurnac offers. Another example of an Earth Day link is through AAA Carolinas. The organization holds a Great Battery Roundup each year in conjunction with Earth Day. People in North Carolina and South Carolina are encouraged to bring in old automobile or marine batteries during April to help prevent illegal dumping. AAA pays $5 for each old battery brought to one of its AAA Car Care Centers or approved auto repair shops in the Carolinas.

A further example of an Earth Day promotion is A&W Iron & Metal, Inc., a scrap recycling business in Wisconsin. The first 300 customers on Earth Day will receive a small tree, and throughout the week, other giveaways include recycling activity books, t-shirts, removable tattoos and over items.

Some companies also utilize Earth Day as an appeal to recycle without actually running specific events around the special day. Universal Lubricants®, a lubricant supplier, uses Earth Day as an opportunity to raise awareness about improper oil disposal associated with do-it-yourself oil changes. It notes that according to EPA, 40 percent of U.S. oil pollution comes from improper disposal of DIY oil changes.

"If every do-it-yourself vehicle owner recycled their used motor oil and filters, the benefits to our planet would be monumental," says Edward Genovese, Universal Lubricants' senior vice president of industrial services, citing reduction of water pollution, reduced need for new crude oil and diversion of oil filters from landfills.

Pitfalls of Using Earth Day for Promotional Purposes

Ultimately, Earth Day is an event well worth celebrating, especially by recycling entities. Companies should take care, however, to keep to the spirit of Earth Day with initiatives that encourage environmentally responsible behavior. This is the best way to participate. Initiatives at the grassroots level such as educational aids and community outreach, including community collection drives seem most appropriate. In keeping to such values, companies should take care to not make their participation purely a self-serving promotional tie-in, and this is an especially poor time to make any remotely questionable green claims about your company’s offerings. For more information on green claims and greenwashing, check out our article on Green Guides.