Concerned about recycling confusion, Connecticut’s RecycleCT program, run by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, created the “What’s In, What’s Out” campaign late last year to spread the word about what to recycle and how. Along with plastic bags, other no-no’s are styrofoam cups, foam peanuts, and disposable razors.

“The campaign is really focused on helping people know what goes in your curbside bin and what doesn’t,” says Sherill Baldwin, who runs RecycleCT for DEEP. Working with the state’s recycling companies and others, “it was the plan of the department to create a statewide marketing campaign around recycling. However, we realized that every town is different. It became almost a joke.”

So RecycleCT took on the problem and created its in-and-out list after consulting with the state’s recycling companies, known as materials recovery facilities. There’s even a widget on its website, which can be installed on municipal and other sites, where you can find out whether something is in or out. Each item was discussed with the facilities operators in terms of whether it was “detrimental to your staff or [might] cause harm to your employees” and whether it might be hazardous to the company’s equipment, Baldwin says.

“I think overall it’s a sound and strong program,” she says. A survey was recently sent to find out whether consumers and municipalities are using the RecycleCT’s list and its materials, including sticker templates, brochures, videos, social media images and bin stickers and hangers. Baldwin says municipalities are making changes as contracts come up for renewal.

“Our program is about outreach and education but it’s also about changing behavior, and that is a long-term process,” she says.

RecycleCT recently won an award from the Northeast Recycling Council for its multimedia campaign, which has received 70,000 website visits, 104,000 searches on its website widget and 1.9 million video views since its launch Nov. 14, 2017. “Connecticut’s effort to simplify the communication about what to recycle is a major step forward,” Rubinstein says. “As far as I know, it was the first in the country to pull this off.”

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