The Recycle Guys - born in South Carolina - celebrated their 30th anniversary in 2022 as the colorful stars of an award-winning public awareness campaign.
The Guys began their career in 1992 as silent brand representatives of DHEC's Office of Solid Waste Reduction and Recycling, but that changed when they made their television debut in 1997 to the tune of Aretha Franklin's all-time classic recording "Respect." Instead of R-E-S-P-E-C-T, the Guys encouraged everyone to R-E-C-Y-C-L-E in the first three of what would become more than 20 public service announcements.
Additional radio and television spots encouraged everyone to recycle used oil, buy recycled products, compost, and reduce waste. Energy conservation and runoff pollution prevention spots were added to make the Guys part of a more comprehensive campaign.
Fun Recycle Guys facts:
- The Guys have been employed throughout the country over the past 30 years including by states, communities, schools, and recycling associations in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, and are currently used in Indiana and North Carolina.
- The Guys have also worked in Australia and Ireland.
- The Guys have appeared in/on activity books, baseball cards, billboards, bookmarks, coffee mugs, coloring books, magnets, posters (including one with Vanna White), recycling bins and roll carts, recycling trucks, tote bags, T-shirts, and more.
- Can Guy, the leader of the group, made his film debut (as a poster) in the 2013 movie "Are You Here" starring Owen Wilson, Zach Galifianakis, and Amy Poehler.
The Guys remain extremely busy and make appearances (via costumes) throughout South Carolina at conferences, meetings, schools, and community events - particularly on and around Earth Day. In addition, their posters are extremely popular, with multiple new releases each year!
The family, of course, has grown. The newest members include Battery Guy, star of the Be Battery Smart outreach initiative, and Romy the tomato, the loveable star of the Don't Waste Food SC campaign.
To learn more about or to use material from the Recycle Guys campaign, please contact DHEC's Office of Solid Waste Reduction and Recycling at 1-800-768-7348.