An extensive public education and promotional strategy was developed by regional staff to ensure that all pilot-area households were well informed of the intent of the pilot study and how to participate. The extensive campaign cost $35 per household, for a total of $36,822 during the pilot project (excluding the supply of the complimentary GLAD clear bags valued at $12,000).
Advertising: A pre-pilot study was conducted from November to January. An article appeared in the Durham Works newsletter. Durham Region and local municipalities’ websites had links to a main Clear Bag Pilot Study page. Public service announcements ran in local newspapers and radio. (PSAs also ran prior to the enforcement phase and after the pilot was complete.) Television appearances were made by regional staff in March and June.
Introduction Letter: The introduction letter was hand delivered by regional staff technicians in three phases, to attempt a face-to-face discussion with all residents and answer their questions. The first attempt was done during daytime business hours, the second in the evenings, and the third was done on the weekends. The introduction letter contained a map of the pilot study area, FAQ (frequently asked questions), and the phases of enforcement.
Public Presentations: Presentations on “best practices” were given to the students in the schools located in the pilot areas. Handouts were given to students to take home to their parents. Two information sessions were held in each pilot area from 6:30 to 9:00 pm at local schools. Two technicians and one manager attended each session. The sessions were held at the schools located inside of the pilot areas. A total of 18 residents came to the Pickering sessions and 24 in Clarington.
Promo Materials: Door hangers with reminders for three weeks prior to pilot start, and one week prior to start were hand delivered by a delivery company. A two week reminder was planned but since it was during the holiday season, the delivery companies were closed. A study kit was hand delivered by regional staff technicians to resident’s doors that included instructions, FAQ and a fridge magnet. A supply of complementary clear bags was supplied for the duration of the pilot by Clorox (GLAD). Road signs were placed at the entrances to the pilot areas as an additional reminder for residents.
“Thanks for Sorting” door hangers were left for residents who did a good job in setting out the proper materials in the correct manner. A handful of homes were randomly chosen each week.
Focus Families: A focus family was chosen in each pilot area; the families were interviewed prior to the start of the pilot and after it finished. Their participation was also tracked throughout the pilot. After the pilot project, both families expressed that as a result of the pilot study they’d use both the recycling and composting waste diversion programs offered by the Region (whereas, this was not the case prior to the study for one of the families). There was an overall community acceptance of the program based on conversations with neighbours and walks through their neighbourhoods.
Most of their residual garbage was plastic: they stated that more consideration should be given to making producers more responsible for their packaging. They said they were likely to carry on setting out their residual garbage in clear bags – one family as an educational tool for their children; the other based on the fact that they had to purchase garbage bags anyway, whether clear, opaque or coloured. Overall, both families found the study useful to educate, inform, structure and create community awareness of waste.
Standard Operating Procedures: A list of operating procedures was given to the contractors prior to enforcement phase. Stickers were given to the waste collectors to leave on any non-compliant garbage bags. Once the enforcement period began, staff allowed the residents and the waste collectors to make their own judgment. Staff monitored the pilot areas prior to and after collection to see what decisions were made.
Satisfaction Survey: Residents in the pilot areas were mailed a survey package that included a survey and a postage paid envelope to return the survey, or they had the option to fill out the survey online on a dedicated webpage. A draw prize was given as an incentive for participation. Notice of the end of pilot study was included with the survey.