City’s Recycling Cart Program Reaps Rewards
The “Pitch in Racine” recycling cart marketing program saved the city of Racine $30,296 and “exceeded our expectations,” according to the Department of Public works commissioner. In the first month alone, the city realized a 78% increase in collection tonnage over the previous year. The program’s first year’s recycling revenues rose 86.4%.
When the city of Racine, Wisconsin decided to switch from collecting blue bags to recycling carts some residents voiced opposition to the plan. City leaders knew success depended on convincing residents to first accept the program, then begin using the carts. It also cost more in labor to manually collect the blue bags over the semi-automated cart pickup.
Rather than focusing on changing the minds of a minority of naysayers, Corporate Images focused on the majority of residents, who were basically neutral about using the carts. Coining the slogan, “Pitch in Racine,” we educated residents and gave them a sense of ownership with messages such as: “You can make a difference.” “You can save the city money and get a lower tax bill.” “You can make Racine cleaner and greener for you and future generations.”
We designed a recycling website; direct mail informational brochures; radio interviews; newspaper, billboard and movie theater ads; and created in-person demos at public events. Turning to new media, we managed the city’s Facebook and Twitter accounts for additional opportunities to inform residents.
A lot of buzz was created about the new program and people fell in line with their civic duty to participate. Because of it, after one month, recycling cart use saved the city $30,296 through decreased landfill fees and the sale of recycled materials. That was double the amount of savings originally anticipated by the city. In just one year recycling tonnage increased by 78%.