Friday, March 22, 2013

Worst infographic I've seen in a long time

Yesterday, I was working on a new presentation and I was looking for an old infographic that I had seen awhile ago about plastic bags vs. paper bags. As I love infographics in general, I ended up clicking on a bunch that weren't the one I was looking for, but stumbled across this one that is truly hideous. It's things like this that make me realize why people find recycling so confusing. I've dissected the infographic for you below, as I don't want anyone to mistake the original for something that could be used in its entirety. Content managers-PLEASE-if you're going to write about something that is not your normal area of expertise, find someone whose area it is and have them review it!

*Some people may think I'm being overly pedantic when it comes to calling out this infographic on the basis
of using a drawing of a full water bottle. The thing is, though, that we've found time and time again
that when you use a picture like this, people will then assume that liquids are fine to throw in to curbside carts.
Let me assure you right now, liquids are never acceptable in curbside recycling carts. I also think it's irresponsible to try to have a list of "recyclable items" and use only a few pictures. This is not an exhaustive list and the lists vary by area, widely. (I've written about this extensively.) It just seems arbitrary and therefore unnecessary, to me.

You can *reuse* trophies, but I don't know anyone that recycles them. Moreover, they've just broken the cardinal rule of recycling outreach and that is to say that something is "recyclable" without qualifying how/where to recycle it. Trust me, if you don't specifically say how/where, these items are going to end up in recycling carts. There are very specific items that your curbside carts can accept (with good reasons) and if you start throwing in random items, those items are likely going to be a taking a long trip to the landfill. Also, juice boxes are acceptable in our recycling carts (but not many...) See why it's a bad idea to make generalized lists of what's recyclable and what isn't?

Ok, here's where the author *really* lost me. I believe what happened is that she read somewhere that paper can be recycled into the items listed (kitty litter, greeting cards and egg cartons.) But, then, in the translation, it became that these things can be recycled into paper.
PLEASE do NOT stick your kitty litter in your recycling cart. We CANNOT make paper out of it. We're not magicians.

I believe this table is an oversimplification of this info. The problem with any resin code info dump is that it perpetuates the myth that the resin codes tell you something useful about the type of plastic and its recyclability in your system. I've written before (a couple different times) about why this is an erroneous approach to take.

Bottom line? If you're wondering what is acceptable in YOUR curbside carts, seek out localized info. Your city or county governments should have some good info (and/or try your hauler-the company you pay to pick up these materials.) Please read infographics like the one mentioned above with a heavy dose of skepticism...

*The Reuser grumbles, "Paper from kitty litter...geez..."*

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