Just in time for Earth Day 2016, Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation (RIRRC) has announced that Rhode Island will be the first state in the nation to adopt standardized recycling bin labels from Recycle Across America (RAA).

RAA is a non-profit organization that has created the first-ever standardized society wide labels for recycling bins in the U.S. RIRRC partnered with RAA to develop a society-wide standardized label specifically for RI. The Ocean State joins major U.S. brands that have already adopted the labels such as NBC Universal, Bank of America, and Whole Foods.

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“We are thrilled to have Rhode Island as our first state, and we commend RIRRC for its leadership,” said Mitch Hedlund, Executive Director of Recycle Across America.   “Recycling is the number one thing society can do to help the environment, the economy, sustainable manufacturing and to help protect the oceans, but only when people recycle right.” RAA is hoping to solve the problem of consumer confusion at the recycling bin by helping to make recycling signage look the same across the U.S. “We know how important it is to make all stop signs octagonal and red. We need to apply this same principle to the standardization of recycling bins,” remarked Hedlund.

To date, more than one million RAA standardized labels are displayed on bins throughout the U.S. They have been proven to increase recycling levels between 50-100%, while significantly reducing contamination with trash—a challenge RI has been facing in recent years.

The RI labels mimic the look of RAA’s standard mixed recycling labels, but feature those items recyclable in RI’s program. RAA revealed the standardized labels today and celebrated Rhode Island as the first state at a Hollywood launch of their national, star-studded, “Let’s Recycle Right” PSA campaign. Celebrities who have already joined the campaign include Kristen Bell, Anthony Mackie, Angie Harmon, Gabrielle Reece, Alanis Morissette, and many others.

“The new RI labels will provide the most basic, bare bones information that we need Rhode Islanders to have in order to produce good quality recycling,” says Krystal Noiseux, RIRRC’s Education and Outreach Manager. “They don’t drill down into every detail you need to be a perfect recycler, rather they focus on using pictures, and providing only the essential rules that anyone can easily follow, starting in elementary school.”

School is precisely where the initiative will begin. RIRRC is kicking off things immediately by distributing free standardized labels to every public school in Rhode Island. Beginning in July, RIRRC will also provide free labels for recycling bins to every state agency, and to municipalities for use in municipal buildings and other public spaces. Private businesses and institutions, including private schools, will also have access to free labels at that time, if they pledge to fully participate in RI’s recycling program.

“Through such initiatives as the Green Ribbon Schools program and through our school-construction regulations that require dedicated space within new school buildings for recycling, Rhode Island schools have been environmental leaders,” remarked Ken Wagner, Rhode Island Education Commissioner. “Many Rhode Island educators work with their students on a variety of recycling projects to help their schools and their communities. Our students and educators are proud to lead the way toward recycling right.”

As the standardized labels make their way onto bins across the state, RIRRC hopes seeing them repeatedly will help to reinforce the most essential recycling rules, and therefore, good recycling habits. “We have a vision,” says Noiseux, “of a day where every child growing up in Rhode Island sees the same, basic, consistent recycling message on bins across Rhode Island—at  home, at school, at the park, at the mall, and eventually, at work.”

For more information, or to get labels for your public school now, contact knoiseux@rirrc.org.