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It has become common knowledge that the amount of waste that humans generate and dispose is an exponentially growing problem that must be addressed. In the past years, recycling and compost have become a large social change, slowly engraining itself into society. However, most people don’t know much more past that. With the explosion of material variety and waste rules per zone, people either wishfully recycle or compost items, guess where to throw them, or default to placing everything in landfill because of the uncertainty of correct disposal. Unfortunately, all this can hurt more than it helps. Misplacing items in bins can contaminate the whole batch, and if there is too many incorrectly sorted items, the entire bag will go straight to landfill due to the cost of sorting and the contaminants degrading the material and machinery. And with China’s ban on loads containing more than 0.5% contamination, our recycling profit and turnover is hurting without the general public being aware of it.
Through questionnaires, observing people’s sorting choices and confidence, and online research, it is clear that there is a large gap between people’s knowledge of what happens to waste after they throw it away and how that choice affects the waste ecosystems afterwards. Many people are unaware of what single-stream recycling truly means and how that is affected by contamination. Plus, many are not conscious in their sorting decisions until it is put in front of them, so it is time to bring this problem into focus and become the bridge in the disconnect.
Recycling Rundown focuses on recycling contamination as it hits on details about what the problem is along with facts to inform the viewers about the scale of the problem and how they can help change their habits to improve the situation. With the main feature being a ball run that simulates how recycling facilities sort out single-stream recycling, it is a colorful, interactive installation suited for all ages. Viewers will be able to understand what materials each ball represents and put them through the ball run to see how it gets sorted out, allowing them to have fun while learning more about the processes that we don’t see after letting our trash go. They will also be able to put their own knowledge to the test with an interactive piece that allows them to guess which bin certain items should go to and see how many they get right. They’ll learn the reasons they belong to their respective bin, while understanding what counts as contamination and what doesn’t. Overall, this installation allows everyone to play while being educated on a serious environmental issue with fun games and colors that guide their learning!
*WARNING! CHOKING HAZARD: Installation includes small balls. Not for children under three years.