With the easing of COVID restrictions, our communities and businesses are making up for lost time. Summer festivals are under way, local shops and restaurants are getting back to full capacity and WM’s Recycle Corps interns are back working face-to-face with recyclers across Western Washington.
The WM Recycle Corps interns are part of WM’s innovative, award-winning recycling education and outreach team. The program looked different in 2020, relying primarily on WM eConnect, WM’s remote outreach campaign. Now, the collegiate interns are back in the community to help improve recycling habits and reduce waste by working directly with businesses, managers and residents at apartments and condominiums, and WM residential customers in 22 cities across three counties.
Contamination in recycling carts remains a pressing problem today. It’s more important than ever to put the right materials in the right containers — this keeps our local recycling program strong, healthy and sustainable. We can do this by focusing our recycling energy on materials that manufacturers need to make new products (think cardboard and paper, tin and aluminum cans, plastics bottles, tubs, and jugs).
In our growing multifamily communities, the WM interns have unique expertise to help property managers provide reliable, convenient recycling systems with better signage and container placement.
The team also works with local businesses to reduce waste and improve recycling behaviors. Many interns are multilingual and use their skills to break down language barriers that can hinder recycling participation.
In addition, you’ll see the WM interns at local summer festivals in their signature green polos, entertaining and educating with games and answering recycling questions.
For WM, the summer intern program is all about community partnership, professional development for students, and delivering results for waste reduction and recycling. Company leaders initiated the program as an extension of WM’s year-round recycling outreach. It’s the first of its kind in the industry and winner of the prestigious Gold Excellence Award – one of the highest honors in the recycling industry – from the Solid Waste Association of North America.
In a broader sense, the WM Recycle Corps produces leaders who will keep working for a sustainable tomorrow. The program has become an incubator for sustainability professionals, with many alumni now working as professionals in green sectors.
Finally, the WM Recycle Corps is a program ideally suited for the Puget Sound. Cities and counties across the region are the vanguard for sustainability leadership and green innovation. They set their sustainability goals high and marshal the right resources and partners to achieve them. The WM internship program is an innovative and effective way for WM to help cities and counties achieve their world-class goals, one face-to-face conversation at a time.
Karissa Jones is WM’s recycling education and outreach manager. To see what’s recyclable, go to https://www.wmnorthwest.com/index.html