Can You Teach and Old Bird to Recycle

Robert Trajkovski
2 min readMay 14, 2021

…how about people

source Waste-Ed

In my LinkedIn feed appeared an interesting video. It was of a bird recycling.

An inventor had instructed crows to collect cans, bottles and bottle tops. When the bird places the item in an appropriate hole to receive a treat.

Useful Pavlov birds…

It was amazing. The inventor has been able to not only construct a machine that dispenses a treat BUT to also teach birds to take an action.

The way he instructed them to take that action was by placing a lot of tops near the food dispenser and if they bumped a cap into the hole he gave them a treat. This process took two weeks before the birds understood the process.

As you know we have a human plastic pollution problem. Our riverways and oceans are full of plastic crap. Cities collect recyclables but still a lot of our pollution is self-inflicted.

I have seen people just throw out their plastic bottles out of moving cars. Their food thrown on the ground. Not caring for the environment at all.

How do we teach people to recycle or even simply to clean up after themselves? This is pretty said that their parents did not teach them any better.

Do we need the equivalent of the treat?

People like animals respond to rewards. By doing a good thing, if rewarded, they will continue doing the right thing.

So what is the right thing?

Put away your garbage and place items that can be recycled into recycling bins. Not that hard.

How do you reward?

Every two weeks I place my recyclables into a large green can and the city comes by and picks them up. I do it because I try to minimize any waste I produce BUT I do not get a treat. Wouldn’t be nice if the city donated a portion of the financial gain in my name to a charity and the charity sent me a certificate of thanks? That would be a nice treat that would encourage me to keep going.

A few years ago I tried to go to work for a company in SE Florida that was focused on cleaning up the ocean. I believe that I could help lead them in developing equipment and strategies for removal of waste from oceans and rivers. It did not work out.

I have since seen several companies trying to clean up the ocean and rivers. I like the idea of stopping it at the rivers. It is easier to clean up than trying to clean up oceans. Attack the input instead of trying to reduce the output.

My four cents…



Robert Trajkovski

I have led people and projects in Steel/ Power, Refining, Chemicals, Industrial Gasses, Software, Consulting and Academia. I have instructed 73+ courses.