Local programs share tips for profitable recycling outreach

Tampa had a budget of about $1,900 for each ad on Pandora and Spotify, Lewis said. In 31 days, the Pandora ad reached 72,164 individual listeners and aired an average of 2.5 times for each listener, Lewis said. The ad generated 823 clicks bringing listeners to the city’s recycling webpage. The Spotify ad also lasted 31 days. It reached 76,174 individual listeners, playing an average of 1.38 times each. It generated 208 clicks to the city’s website.

“Streaming like this reaches a segment of the population that doesn’t normally receive bill inserts or print media,” Castro Tello noted.

Mass Texting Approaches

Morgan of Rock Hill, SC said his city uses shopping cart labels, shopping cart stickers, flyers, brochures, direct mail and Pandora, television and newspaper advertisements. Rock Hill has a population of approximately 75,000.

But a solid waste reduction and recycling grant from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control helped the city launch text messaging as a strategy to reach residents. The city already had some advantages, she noted: it provides utilities to residents, including a sanitation service, and already has a text messaging system to notify residents of service outages or road works, she said.

To get recycling information, Rock Hill used the roughly 13,000 phone numbers already in the system, she said, and when customers sign up for utility accounts, they have the option to refuse to receive text messages.

“Because this is information and not a solicitation, we can automatically add it in text messaging and make it more of an opt-out,” she said.

“We just thought we would be more successful if we started with 13,000 numbers than if we started with zero,” she added.

The city contracts with a company called TextPower to provide the service. Morgan said each text is limited to 160 characters, but the city can exceed that — and usually does — incurring charges for two messages to each phone number.

She provided some recommendations: Chat with customer service before sending a message as this will trigger an increase in call volume. This is a scenario the city particularly wants to avoid on days when city crews cut off power or water service for an area, resulting in increased call volumes anyway.

Some department heads have expressed interest in piggybacking on the system to add other messages, such as leaf collection information, Morgan said, but she recommends keeping messages short and to the point to keep attention. readers.

When customers respond to the SMS, the response is sent to Morgan’s inbox. She recommends that cities not respond through this channel, however, lest customers request work orders by text message rather than through the established online request or call system.

In terms of cost, Rock Hill spent about $1,000 sending messages to about 13,000 phone numbers with recycling information around Thanksgiving last year. As the message exceeded 160 characters, it was billed as a double message. The costs were about 8 cents per phone number.

The success of bin-tagging a city

Allison Harvey, city administrator for the small jurisdiction of Clover, SC, population 6,700, said her city was able to provide curbside collection for all single-family homes and some businesses through a 2005 agreement. with York County. Through this arrangement, Clover pays half the salary, operating and equipment costs for collection, and the recyclables are delivered to a facility in York County for sorting and marketing. York County also operates three depot facilities near the city.

His city faces particular challenges given its rapid population growth. Between the 2010 and 2020 censuses, the population increased by 31%. The city educates citizens about recycling through its websites, social media, and flyers. When new water utility customers sign up, they also receive recycling information.

They’ve been “somewhat” effective, she says, but less so when it comes to educating residents about program changes. For example, in 2016 the city had to stop accepting glass, and in 2019 the city stopped accepting grocery bags and shredded paper. The city experienced a lot of contamination after the changes were implemented.

“We knew we had to do something else. We had to try something more,” she said.

With the help of a grant from the ARC, Clover started last year to conduct awareness activities on what is and is not accepted through postcards. The money also allowed the city to purchase “oops” bin tags informing households that their recycling receptacle was not emptied due to contamination.

The tagging required buy-in from the only collector in town because it slows him down, she said. “So it was a lot more labor intensive for him, but it works,” she said. Clover has seen increased attendance and less contamination in blue bins.

“I think Yoda would be proud that we not only tried, we did,” Harvey said.

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