The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is hoping to increase recycling across the state with a new “I Am a Recycler” campaign.

The DNR’s Jennifer Wright says it has been ten years since there’s been an education campaign. “We haven’t been very good about consistently sort of marketing and educating our Iowa citizens. So, the I am a recycler campaign is a multi-year environmental education campaign that’s focused on the consistent recycling education, but also will address sustainable materials management,” Wright says.

She says the hope is to get more people to think of recycling as the natural thing to do. “We did some behavior change research. We want Iowans to not just recycle — we want them to become permanent recyclers,” Wright says. So that is the emphasis of this campaign.” Recycling has been around for 40 years — but Wright says it hasn’t hit its full potential yet.

The research they did gave them a focus for this campaign. “That demographic was in the age range of the mid-20s to the mid-40s — which seems pretty big. And that demographic is on social media — so we’re looking at this from the sort of a social media perspective, and we are moving it into other multi-media approaches,” Wright says.

Wright says one of the biggest problems they find is the contamination of materials put into recycling bins. “I’ll use a pizza box for example. If it is a clean pizza box you can rip the top off if it doesn’t have any oil or grease or stuck on cheese,” she says. “And some, if they are saturated or dirty we certainly don’t want those in the recycling mix because they are contaminated.”

Wright says that is also a key part of the message of the importance of recycling. “It’s about recycling right. Recycling the right things. And citizens of Iowa can go to their local landfill or material recovery facility and find out what is a recyclable material in their area,” Wright says.

The Iowa DNR will share information about recycling more and recycling right in the next six months. Wright says you can join in the campaign by snapping a selfie of how you recycle and post the pictures on social media with the tag @IowaDNR and the hashtag #IAmARecycler.