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Wayfinding and city signage
Building buzz around recycling programs

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According to the Environmental Protection Agency, strong community recycling programs can contribute to a healthy, united community. Such programs—led with support and guidance from local government agencies—have been known to support local economies, encourage sustainable growth and improve the water and air qualities of the communities that implement them.In fact, did you know…

The White House Task Force projected that 195 million cubic yards of materials were prevented from entering landfills in past years due to recycling—an amount equivalent to the space of 92 large landfills.

  • Unlike the waste management industry, recycling adds value to materials, contributing to a growing labor force, including materials sorters, dispatchers, truck drivers, brokers, sales representatives, process engineers and chemists. These jobs also generally pay above the average national wage, and many are in inner city urban areas where job creation is vital.
  • The recycling and reuse industry generates billions in federal, state and local tax revenues (estimated at $12.9 billion in 2001).
  • By conservative estimates, recycling was projected to save 605 trillion British Thermal Units (BTUs) in 2005, equal to the energy used in 6 million households annually.
  • About 4 percent of the U.S.’s total energy consumption is used in the production of all plastic products, and some of this energy can be recovered through the recycling of plastics products after their useful life is ended.
  • For each pound of aluminum recovered, Americans save the energy resources to generate about 7.5 kilowatt hours of electricity. This is enough energy to meet the electric needs of a city the size of Pittsburgh for six years.

Local recycling programs are valuable, but it’s no secret they’ve been slashed from the budgets of many communities. Rally support from constituents and communicate the value and cost savings these programs—when executed efficiently—can provide.
Here are a few ideas to get started building buzz:

  • Make it easy to understand—develop communication materials, like direct mail pieces, flyers, web pages and more that break it down for residents. What is the program, how does it work, what are residents expected to do and when, are residents required to participate, is there a cost associated with participation? Make it clear!
  • Canvass neighborhoods to leave behind recycled tote bags filled with information on local recycling programs, the benefit these programs offer to the community and the environment, and who they can contact with for more information.
  • Stationing volunteers in high-traffic areas to distribute flyers and a memorable takeaway item like calendar magnets  or recycling bin-shaped magnets outlining recycle collection days to build awareness.
  • Utilize your city’s website or social media channels to promote the program. Create videos showing residents where their recycling goes, create a blog with tips on recycling and reducing waste, get the recycling crew on Twitter® to send updates from a new perspective. Encourage engagement by giving away T-shirts to residents sharing links and spreading the word. The possibilities are endless!
  • Join forces with local businesses to get them on board with recycling programs and to encourage their employees to do the same. Make it easy by donating recycling bags for their offices.
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