For 48 years, Earth Day has served as an opportunity for industry influencers to share best practices and boost their brands' status as environmental advocates. In years past, companies and organizations have highlighted efforts to reduce emissions or clean up litter, but this year, there is special focus on combating plastic pollution.
From recycling robots to educational campaigns, Waste Dive compiled the following list of how some stakeholders chose to observe Earth Day 2018.
Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA)
SWANA issued a statement reminding its members that "'reduce and reuse' come before 'recycle' on the waste hierarchy for a reason; our primary efforts should center on reducing the amount of waste we generate, and finding ways to give products a longer life cycle, in order to reduce environmental impact."
The organization is pushing the importance of consumer education so plastics collection is as efficient as possible for recycling.
"Through the collective efforts of SWANA's Recycling Task Force, cooperation with federal and state officials, and renewed public awareness brought on by Earth Day, I am hopeful that we can make headway in finding creative solutions to reducing and processing our plastic waste," CEO David Biderman said.
Republic encouraged its customers, staff and communities served to do "#1More" action to reduce contamination in the recycling stream.
"We encourage everyone to take #1MORE step to help reduce contamination by incorporating four easy tips into your daily routine," said Pete Keller, vice president of recycling and sustainability.
The tips included limiting recycling bins to basic material such as cardboard and aluminum cans, cleaning recyclables, and following the "when in doubt, throw it out" philosophy.
Northeast Recycling Council (NERC)
NERC used the occasion to reflect on 50 years of environmental action. The regional organization drew special attention to a broadcast from famous newsman Walter Cronkite.
The international nonprofit pushed a petition to demand large corporations reduce the production of single-use plastic; the petition currently has millions of signatures. Artists across Europe and the Americas have created artwork on beaches calling attention to marine plastic, too.
Greenpeace also encouraged individuals to push local businesses away from single-use plastics. "This Earth Day, Greenpeace is looking to shift the narrative around single-use plastics from one of individual responsibility toward corporations reducing their production of throwaway plastic packaging," the organization said in a statement.
Apple made two significant announcements ahead of Earth Day: First is an initiative to donate to Conservation International for every product returned to stores through the Apple GiveBack program by April 30. Second is Daisy.
Daisy is a new disassembly robot that takes Apple products and harvests the metals from them, reducing the new for extracting new material. It joins Liam in the company's family of robotic resources.
The North Face
This outdoors-wear retailer partnered with The National Parks Foundation to make a collection of t-shirts and tote bags made from recycled bottles collected from three national parks. $1 from each sale will be donated back to the foundation, and the program has already collected over 160,000 pounds of bottles from Yosemite National Park alone.
Staples used Earth Day as an opportunity to expand its e-waste recycling program. Customers can now bring coffee brewers in for recycling at stores. The company says it has collected more than 400 million pounds of electronic waste since 2007; the expansion of this program is likely to further boost that number.
The unique recycling company added two more partners to its list of free specialty recycling programs ahead of Earth Day. Consumers of select Burt's Bees products and Hasbro toys and games can receive shipping labels to send their collections to New Jersey for a new life in various plastic products. Both programs will be funded by the manufacturers.
Vote with Your Tote
Vote with Your Tote is a New York-based campaign pushing for a plastic bag ban in New York City. While the industry is split on the effectiveness and practicality of bag bans, it is clear removing bags from waste streams can make sorting and collection more efficient. This campaign is bringing together bodega owners in the city and artists to design bags to encourage reuse.
The mega-corporation encouraged customers to buy from the "Amazon Warehouse," a separate website where Amazon sells used items, instead of buying new. The company estimates it "recycled" 19,500 tons of material through this site in 2017, with food items among the leading categories.
Just ahead of Earth Day, the ocean health nonprofit released an open-source guide calling "For a Strawless Ocean," which the group hopes will help others reduce single-use plastic pollution.
Recycle Track Systems
Greg Lettieri, the co-founder and CEO of RTS, got to throw out the first pitch at a New York Mets Game April 17. The company sponsored "green teams" to collect recyclables during breaks during the game and is participating in recycling programs throughout the year at Citi Field. Play ball.
How did you note Earth Day 2018? Is your company, city or organization doing something notable to reduce waste and use less? Let us know by getting in touch at [email protected]