The Earth911 recycling database consists of more than 130,000 listings, and I used to be in charge of it. These listings are made up of city and county locations, retailers with drop-off bins, and curbside and mail-in programs. It’s a huge, ever-evolving directory that requires constant attention.

During the time I managed the recycling database, I went through what I would call a crash course in recycling. I learned more about the recycling industry than I ever thought possible. And while I still feel as though I have so much to uncover about this complex industry, there are three lessons I have learned that I would like to share with you.

While managing the Earth911 database, I had the chance to speak to many people who were searching for recycling solutions in their area.

Often, their city actually allowed them to recycle the material in question in their curbside bin or they had a local drop-off point listed on their website. They just couldn’t find the information. In my experience, many cities simply do not effectively communicate to their residents about the recycling options they provide.

A chunk of the information on the Earth911 database comes from city websites. As a result, I’ve spent hours and hours digging through city and county websites trying to find recycling info.

City websites are notoriously bad. I swear some of them haven’t been updated since 1999. They are also packed with information, resulting in navigation menus that stretch off the screen. Often I would have to click on link after link trying to find the city’s recycling page.

Many cities need to do a better job of getting this information in front of their residents so they know what recycling options they have in their area. Brands also need to do a better job informing their customers how to recycle their products.

Fortunately, there is some progress being made on this front with the How2Recycle label. Many major brands are adopting this labeling system that clearly communicates if and how a product can be recycled.

2. Manufacturers Need to Take Responsibility

While brands need to do a better job communicating how to recycle their products, they also need to take greater responsibility for the products they manufacture.

When companies are planning new products, they should take time to…