Born in South Carolina, the Recycle Guys are the colorful stars of an award-winning public awareness campaign that celebrated its 20-year anniversary in 2017.
The Guys began their career in 1992 as the silent logo 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 television spots encouraged everyone to recycle used oil, buy recycled products, compost and reduce waste during the holidays. Energy conservation and runoff pollution spots were added to make the Guys part of a more comprehensive campaign.
The Guys have been employed throughout the country in the past 20 years in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia and are currently used in Indiana and North Carolina. The Guys have appeared on activity books, baseball cards, billboards, coffee mugs and glasses, coloring books, radio and television, posters (including one with Vanna White), recycling bins, tote bags, T-shirts, videos and more. Can Guy, the leader of the group, also appeared (in poster form) in the 2013 film "Are You Here" starring Owen Wilson and Zach Galifianakis.
The Guys are still employed in South Carolina in posters, coloring and activity books, television spots and more.
To learn more about or use material from the Recycle Guys campaign, please contact DHEC's Office of Solid Waste Reduction and Recycling at 1-800-768-7348.