Solid Waste & Recycling

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Getting the Word Out

Terms like "think green," "eco-wise," "eco-friendly," "energy-save" and "recycle" are just a few of many that reflect our society's increasing environmental awareness. However common such terms may be...


Terms like “think green,” “eco-wise,” “eco-friendly,” “energy-save” and “recycle” are just a few of many that reflect our society’s increasing environmental awareness. However common such terms may be, actually transforming people’s awareness into action is complicated. An effective waste and recycling/composting campaign must truly affect people at the same time as it conforms to the program operator’s specifications and budgetary constraints.

Benjamin Communications has created successful multimedia municipal waste and waste diversion communication programs for the County of Simcoe (16 member municipalities) and the Town of Richmond Hill (most recently for the Simcoe collection program which commenced the week of September 29, 2008).

The challenges of creating a communications or marketing program for waste and waste diversion programs are numerous. First and foremost are the myriad components necessary to successfully fully complete and launch your project. Apart from the general track-tracking and timing of each element, there are two major aspects: creative and production. The creative side includes determination of the program’s overall theme and message, while production includes the means used to best communicate with your audience.

Not only does the creative aspect include the language and style of your message, it should also include original imaginative illustrations throughout the material, used in a consistent manner. A common error is that not enough time or resources are invested in the creative dimension. The use of stock photography and/or clip art illustrations just doesn’t cut it; it’s not unique enough to brand your project. Your audience is already inundated with large quantities of information in various formats, so it’s imperative that all communications are original and innovative, in order to stand out.

Resident enrolment and follow-through are also crucial.

Elements of a communications program may include: radio or TV ads, newsletters, brochures, billboards, brand development, annual collection calendars, promotional items (magnets, tote bags, t-shirts), posters, collection vehicle signage, newspaper ads, mascots, die-stamp for bin lids, green bin stickers, and reference guides.

With so many technical details involved in each campaign, employing various firms or delegating different aspects of your project to a variety of people creates the possibility that elements will be overlooked, follow-through will be absent, and/or various components of your program will not be integrated on time. Either you must accept being the point person yourself (and assume the implied responsibility), or hire a qualified person or agency to coordinate everything. Something to ask if you’re thinking about doing it all yourself is whether or not you have relationships with proven suppliers to provide you with quality products, competitive pricing and (most importantly) accountability.

Hiring an agency

Recommendations for producing (and surviving through) an effective campaign if you hire an agency, include:

• Find an agency that has the time to commit to you throughout the entire process.

• Your chosen agency should have a dedicated art director and project coordinator.

• Understand that small things matter when launching such a large scale campaign. You are going to be under pressure.

• Establish a budget beforehand or ask the agency to supply competitive quotes in advance so you have the necessary information to structure your financial strategy.

• Be receptive to new ideas… government projects do not need to be repetitive or unexciting. Provide your participants with something that they will be proud to display on their fridge!

• Employ new media, such as interactive online and/or DVD information, with your distribution package.

One last piece of advice: Targeting the younger generation is the most practical tactic for optimum participation in your cause. Getting children excited in recycling is a wonderful way to implement your program, and by default, ensures parents get involved.

Benjamin Bielas in principal of Benjamin Communications Inc. in Markham, Ontario. Contact Benjamin at benjamin@bencom.ca

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“Government projects do not need to be repetitive or unexciting. Provide your participants with something that they will be proud to display on their fridge!”


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