by Melissa Anunson | June 01, 2015
As a "name tag geek" (full disclosure: I work at PC/nametag, a company that has been selling its own brand of name tag holders for 20 years), I've compiled a list of tips and tricks to make the recycling of badges and holders -- one of the easiest ways to "green" an event -- a simpler task for meeting planners. Following are some best practices.

• Store carefully. Vinyl -- the material badge holders typically are made of -- can be temperamental, so be sure to put them back the way you found them. Use the same trays and boxes they were shipped in to avoid bending, folding, warping or denting. Store them in a place that is not too hot, not too cold, and has enough humidity to prevent them from getting dried out and brittle.

Already recycled the boxes they came in? You can always purchase a badge organizer.

• Remove inserts. Be sure to remove the paper name ID before you store your badge holders for reuse. If you forget, you might find that the ink from the original insert transferred onto the vinyl, rendering them useless.

Look for holders with air pockets that make the inserts easier to slide in and take out.

• Consider recycling. If you won't have another chance to reuse badge holders, know that most vinyl holders can be recycled, as long as the metal clips have been removed.

Consider purchasing slotted vinyl holders that slip onto lanyards, so metal clips aren't necessary. If you already have holders with clips, simply cut those off prior to recycling.

• Banish ribbon residue. Badge ribbons, which indicate special titles, typically are made with strong adhesive backings so they stay put on holders. Unfortunately, that means an extra step for you. Before putting the holders away, remove the residue with a product like Goo Gone. If you skip this step, the residue will be noticeable if an attendee at the next meeting doesn't have any ribbons to cover the sticky spots. For recycling, note that any vinyl with sticky residue will be removed from the recycling stream.

• Make returns easy.
 Ask friendly planners to hold badge-collection baskets near the exit door to encourage recycling. Most folks will fall in line when asked by a peer.

For larger meetings, or if your staff is busy with tear-down, use standing ballot boxes as badge collectors.

Better yet, turn name tag inserts into raffle tickets. (Heck, they already have the attendee's names on them.) Collect inserts and holders in two different baskets prior to the final session, and hold the drawing at the end. This tip has added benefits: It encourages attendees to stay for the duration of the session, and attendees separate the inserts and badge holders for you.

• Opt for pouches. Instead of a vinyl badge holder, consider nylon name tag pouches. These holders, which have clear windows for name inserts, can be reused, recycled or can even be gifted to attendees to use as passport holders.

Melissa Anunson serves as digital marketing specialist for  PC/nametag, a  meetings supply firm founded in 1985 and based in Verona, Wis.