Perhaps the scariest thing about Halloween is the amount of plastic waste left over from discarded candy wrappers. Americans purchase more than 600 million pounds of Halloween each year. Since most curbside recycling services are unable to recycle candy wrappers, thousands of pounds of waste ends up in landfills or oceans. These eye-opening statistics inspired Atlanta-based Rubicon, known for providing smart waste and recycling solutions to businesses and governments, to get involved. Rubicon decided to continue their mission of ending waste by creating a recycling program called Trick or Trash.
“Wrappers in particular are very difficult to discard in a way that avoids landfilling, so we sought out an opportunity to reduce that waste and at the same time create a fun campaign that spoke directly to teachers and students all across the country,” said Dan Sampson, Senior Director for Marketing at Rubicon.
Teachers who signed up for the Trick or Trash program were provided candy wrapper recycling boxes and lesson plans to teach their students about the circular economy and recycling.
Mrs. Siddhi Gullickson, a teacher in Indiantown, Florida, participated in Trick or Trash 2019. She said, “Indiantown Middle School is in a rural community in western Martin County, Florida. It is a small town with one grocery store and two stop lights. Taking part in the Trick or Trash program from Rubicon showed our students that ALL of us can make a difference wherever we are, and we can work towards recycling and conserving our resources.”
Teachers are still Rubicon’s biggest audience, and they were the first to engage and help launch the Trick or Trash campaign. This year, Rubicon has extended their recycling program to small businesses.
“Given the varying levels of school closures across the country due to COVID-19, they are an essential partner in helping all communities engage in Trick or Trash and expand its reach and impact,” said Sampson.
Rubicon also partnered with the National Wildlife Federation to expand the educational component of their campaign.
“We now have lesson plans tailored to different age groups, fact sheets and even lunch box reminders for the students. The NWF is one of the world’s leaders in environmental education, and we certainly share that commitment with them,” said Sampson.
Rubicon’s educational resources and materials teach people how to identify waste, describe what it looks like to recycle, and explain why recycling is important. The lesson plans and factsheets also provide information about recycling and the circular economy, and explain how people can participate in the recycling process. Rubicon measures success through the number of schools and businesses they reach, and the number of people who learn about landfill diversion.
“If we reach 500 locations, and each location has just 20 people engage, that is 10,000 people who learn about recycling and can contribute immediately in a meaningful way. Not to mention we divert thousands of pounds of wrappers from the trash that might otherwise go into landfill or our oceans!” said Sampson.
Georgia boasts the highest participation rate so far in Trick or Trash, but the entire Southeast Region has responded positively to the campaign.
“The reaction from the community has been tremendous, and we are so grateful. The numbers speak for themselves: in 2019 the Southeast represented more than a quarter of all Trick or Trash participants! It’s a credit to the schools, teachers and students that they are embracing Trick or Trash and making a real difference not just in their own communities, but to the future health of our entire planet. We are seeing another outstanding response from the region this year, and are already looking forward to Trick or Trash 2021!” said Sampson.