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Source: Neil Tolbert

The U.S. Sucks at Recycling, and This 9-Year-Old Is Trying to Fix It

By Sophie Hirsh

If you've ever used a recycling bin in the U.S., you'll probably recognize Recycle Across America's standardized labels, which clearly indicate which recycling bins are for which items. The nonprofit is on a mission to get more people to recycle by standardizing recycling labels across the country. Over the years, the organization has teamed up with a few celebrities to help spread the message — but its latest spokesperson is the most exciting yet, since he is more experienced in recycling than most adults are. As Recycle Across America (RAA) announced in a press release, Ryan Hickman, the 9-year-old CEO of nonprofit Ryan's Recycling, has officially partnered with RAA as a volunteer spokesperson.

Ryan founded Ryan's Recycling in 2012, when he was just 3 years old. Since then, he has collected and recycled more than 500,000 cans and bottles. Ryan's Recycling went viral in 2016, and since then, he has talked about his business on shows including The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Good Morning America. Taking his success as a recycler into account, Ryan is clearly the perfect person to help RAA standardize recycling nationwide.

"I think it’s very important to standardize recycling labels because that way people won’t get confused on what they can or can’t recycle," Ryan tells Green Matters in an email. "When we all recycle correctly, there will be less in the landfills and less trash in with the recycled items. Recycling right is easy. If a 9-year-old kid like me can do it, anyone can do it."