Keep America Beautiful and the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) have partnered to produce a new resource to help combat littering, “Being a Good Neighbor: A Guide to Reducing Litter, Managing Trash and Encouraging Recycling.”
The free guide provides quick and easy tips for convenience stores to improve their customers’ experience, help the environment and, ultimately, enhance their reputation and bottom line. It includes information from Keep America Beautiful’s landmark “Litter in America” research from 2009—comprised of the “National Visible Litter Survey” and “Litter Cost Study”—as well as from jointly developed consumer and retailer surveys and audits conducted this year by NACS and Keep America Beautiful.
The guide includes a checklist to examine litter management practices as well as practical tips to help retailers reduce and ultimately eliminate litter in and around their stores. It also provides recommendations for recycling bin and trash receptacle placements to help make proper disposal of packaging items easy and accessible. And retailers also share techniques to engage employees, customers, and the greater community.
“With convenience stores comprising 34% of all retailer business, convenience store operators can play an instrumental role in providing customers with convenient trash and recycling containers to lessen litter and improve recycling at their locations,” said Brenda Pulley, Keep America Beautiful’s senior vice president, recycling. “Keep America Beautiful is pleased to team up with the NACS to provide best practices for managing trash and recycling with the new ‘Being a Good Neighbor’ guide.”
According to Keep America Beautiful research, most people properly dispose of trash in receptacles. But nearly one in five disposals (17%) ends up as litter. Packaging, including fast food, snack, beverage and tobacco packaging, comprises nearly half (47%) of items in the “visible” litter stream, according to Keep America Beautiful research.
Meanwhile, NACS research shows that consumers overwhelmingly say that convenience store appearance is important: 84% of consumers fueling up say cleanliness of the store is an important factor when considering whether they will shop at a particular store. The new resource guide shares best practices that help retailers manage waste to keep their properties clean, including placement and design of trash receptacles.
“Litter impacts how people perceive your brand, even if they litter a cup with your logo on it somewhere else,” said Lisa Dell’Alba, one of the many retailers surveyed for the guide. Dell’Alba is president & CEO of Square One Markets of Bethlehem, PA and a member of the NACS Board of Directors.
Convenience stores spend more than $600 per store per month for recycling and trash collection programs—or about $1.3 billion industry-wide on an annual basis. But the payoff is worth the expense: U.S. convenience stores continue to grow their foodservice sales, which climbed 12.9% to $49 billion in 2016, per NACS data.
“Keep America Beautiful has been the nation’s steward for litter prevention for nearly 65 years. We recognize that foodservice and product packaging is a significant part of the litter stream, and we’re pleased to partner on this guide to help convenience stores and their customers reduce litter. It’s good for the environment and good for the community, and ultimately good for business because consumers support businesses that support the communities they serve,” said NACS Vice President of Strategic Industry Initiatives Jeff Lenard.