Top 10 Effective Communication Tips for your 2022 Waste & Recycling Program

Helping your community improve their recycling habits through solid waste and recycling education can feel an awful lot like conjuring the powers of persuasion.

But when you know how to make a solid argument — and you’ve got the tried-and-true digital tools in your arsenal to carry out your plans — you can create more compelling campaigns and messaging, strategize better solutions, and help your community make lasting changes that benefit people and the environment.

As you look for new opportunities this year to empower folks to recycle right, here are our top 10 tips to keep in mind to inspire you to get started.

1. Empower your community.

The people you serve need to see that they can make a quantifiable difference through recycling. Without that concrete evidence, recycling can become just another daunting task on an already overwhelming to-do list.

Provide your community with relatable and practical statistics through all forms of communication, whether that’s on your website, social media, in print, and beyond. Do your research so you may include information about specific items to illustrate your points. For example, if you’d like to push for people to recycle more cans, encourage your community through a quantifiable stat:

If you recycle x beverage cans per week, by the end of the year, you’ll have diverted enough aluminum from the landfill to build x bicycles!

2. Put it on repeat. 

Repetition is your friend. Not only will it help people remember what you’ve said, it will help them believe it, too. Studies have shown that the more often someone hears a piece of information, the more inclined they are to believe it’s factual.

Use this to your benefit by keeping your waste and recycling messages front and center, and repeat it as often as you can. For instance, if you’d like folks to recycle plastic bags in stores and not in their recycling bins, post messages a few times per week on your social media platforms. Then, call on digital tools such as app reminders, website banners, e-newsletters and the Collection Calendar to do the rest of the legwork for you.

3. Keep it relevant. 

Whether you’re talking to your city council or a group of grade schoolers, you already know that it’s important to adjust your talking points to better connect with your audience and help them digest the information you’re presenting. Be sure to do the same with the rest of your educational materials by including relatable and relevant statistics and information.

For example, grade schoolers may be interested in the amount of time it takes for a juice carton to break down in a landfill, while your city council members or area developers may be drawn to the number of local jobs your recycling program has created or retained.

4. Develop a digital brand. 

This may sound intimidating and daunting to waste professionals on tight budgets, but it doesn’t have to be! Technology is more affordable and accessible than ever. The people you serve lead increasingly busy lives, and they’re already keeping themselves organized with the help of websites and apps. They don’t just expect you to do the same; they need you to!

If you don’t know where to start, we can help. From our Collection Calendar to our Waste Wizard, we have easily customizable digital tools to fit any need, whether you provide simple drop-off sites for recycling in your area, or you offer comprehensive and complex curbside collection programs.

5. Drum up your digital engagement.

Creating digital experiences is another way you can capture people’s attention and gain their trust. Offer your community convenient, real-time access to recycling information through website tools and mobile apps, including ReCollect’s Collection Calendar and Waste Wizard. Tools like these allow people to help themselves whenever they need it — and become better recyclers, too.

6. Be relatable — and be kind. 

Research shows that people listen to the people and organizations they like — and they like people they can relate to. Build a rapport with your community by getting on their level. Frame your messages the way you’d speak to a friend. As the age-old saying goes, we’re all in this together!

7. Follow the 1, 5, 50 rule.

As you have come to know, and as the Recycling Partnership points out,  attention and memory are commodities. While you adapt your various modes of messaging, remember the 1, 5, 50 rule outlined by the Partnership: If you are speaking to a large group, you can successfully plant one point or idea; five points during face-to-face meetings; and 50 or more points if the information is organized, scannable and searchable.

In other words, don’t try to introduce a multi-step, comprehensive guide to recycling at your next city council meeting. Instead, touch on a couple of key points and direct people to your website or waste and recycling app for specific information and guidance.

8. Keep it positive.

The current and future effects of climate change and environmental degradation are very real, but you can find better ways to convey the importance of recycling without the doom and gloom. According to the University of Arizona, messages framed positively are often more persuasive, so tap into the positive aspects of recycling through your messaging rather than illustrating what will happen if we don’t.

For example, don’t simply tell people not to throw away cans and bottles because it hurts the planet. Instead, explain how recycling cans and bottles can save natural resources and keep our waterways clean!

9. Call on other experts. 

You’re a solid waste and recycling educator in your own right, but sometimes, people need to know what other sources think, too. Point to statistics and conclusions from well-known and reputable sources who agree with you on the importance of recycling often and right, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, The Recycling Partnership and National Resources Defense Council. This will help you leverage your expertise and gain people’s trust.

10. Listen first. 

Before you make decisions about how to present recycling information to your community, listen to their questions, ideas and concerns. This will give you better insights on where you need to focus your education and communications efforts, and what they ought to entail.

Scrap the town hall meetings and mail-in surveys and instead, call on digital help such as social media polls or a multiple-choice question in your next e-newsletter. For example, you can ask, “What’s the hardest part about recycling?” A) Knowing what goes in the bin; B) Remembering to put my recycling at the curb on the right day; C) Getting my family to participate; or D) Other (fill in your answer). What people say might surprise you!

Helping people improve their recycling habits can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. As you look for new ways to connect with people and empower them to recycle better, we can help. For more than a decade, we have worked with haulers, municipalities and other entities to offer innovative and effective ways to communicate with the people they serve to increase recycling and composting participation, decrease contamination, encourage waste diversion and more.

Whether you need a little guidance or a digital tool overhaul, we’ve got you. On our website, hover over the Learn tab to find a host of guides, webinars and blogs we have created to help our customers reach all of their goals, no matter how large or small.

If you’d like to learn more about how our digital recycling education and outreach tools can help you, let’s talk.