WASHINGTON — Two Washington-based efforts to boost recycling kicked off Oct. 1 — a six-week advertising and public education campaign culminating in the first ``America Recycles Day'' and a related White House conference in the spring aimed at stabilizing markets.
The Nov. 15 recycling day will include 3,000 educational events nationwide aimed at increasing consumer demand for products with recycled content. The lead sponsors of the event are the Environmental Protection Agency and the Steel Recycling Institute.
Details for the White House conference remain sketchy, but the event will attempt to raise the profile of efforts to boost recycling, said Federal Environmental Executive Fran McPoland, the top official charged with boosting government purchases of recycled-content products.
``We see markets that have been destabilized,'' she said. ``We want to come up with strategies to help communities to stabilize markets.''
No solutions are favored or ruled out, but McPoland said ``pressure from the government doesn't always have to come in the form of mandates. There are other ways to influence.''
The conference will likely be preceded by meetings with industry and environmental groups to help set the agenda, she said.
The conference was announced by Kathleen McGinty, chairwoman of the president's Council on Environmental Quality, at a news conference marking the start of the America Recycles Day campaign.
Officials hope the recycling day event takes advantage of favorable public attitudes toward buying recycled products, or at least positive attitudes expressed to pollsters.
McPoland, who is co-chair of America Recycles Day, said ``we want consumers to take a second look ... and then vote with their almighty dollar.''
The campaign hopes to get 2.5 million Americans to sign pledge cards to buy recycled products, and plans to give away to one of them a $200,000 house made from donated, recycled materials.
The effort is relying on the media to donate advertising, similar to an EPA-Environmental Defense Fund effort promoting recycling that garnered $46 million in free ads last year. McDonald's restaurants plan to put a ``buy recycled'' message on its cups next month, and groups in 41 states and one U.S. territory will be organizing events.
Not counting advertising, the total cost of the effort is about $750,000, mostly in contributions from members, said William Heenan, president of the Steel Recycling Institute and co-chair of America Recycles Day.
Polling data released by the National Recycling Coalition, a sponsor of the event, found that 42 percent of 2,000 adults surveyed buy recycled products at least once a week.
The full results of the survey were not available, but only 3-7 percent of the respondents said additional cost or poor quality were barriers to buying recycled products, NRC officials said.
The American Plastics Council is not listed as a sponsor or recognized in press materials handed out, but an APC spokeswoman said the group plans to participate across the country in the local events for the campaign. The National Association for Plastic Container Recovery is donating materials to the house made from recycled materials.
APC's decision not to participate ``speaks volumes'' about the industry's lack of commitment to recycling, said Richard Denison, a senior scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund. EDF sits on the executive committee of America Recycles Day.
Trade associations for the aluminum and glass industries also were not listed as sponsors of the event, although steel and paper companies and trade groups are.
Heenan said it is understandable that some trade groups did not participate in the Washington events because it took a ``leap of faith'' that the campaign would develop, especially early on when sponsors were sought.