The Recycle Alabama Campaign is a regional education campaign that utilizes the power of branding to create a truly regional approach to recycling, building upon what has primarily been a fractured, municipality-based effort. Only seven of the thirty-nine municipalities within Jefferson County currently offer drop-off or curbside recycling opportunities for residents. While some of these municipalities have seen some degree of success in resident participation, the restrictions imposed by a municipality-based program often create a fragmented rather than inclusive opportunity for recycling.
As new recycling opportunities are made possible through the 2010 and 2011 ADEM Alabama Recycling Fund grant and are introduced in parts of Jefferson County that have not had easy access to recycling, the Recycle Alabama Campaign will be used to inform and educate the new communities about the availability and benefits of recycling while serving as a reminder and behavioral reinforcement for residents who already have access to these services. By showing residents that the effects of recycling are bigger than a neighborhood, a community, or a city, the Campaign illustrates how individual actions can multiply into benefits that affect an entire region. The Alabama Environmental Council (AEC) serves as the lead for this portion of the grant and has contracted with The Modern Brand to create most of the graphic elements. However, success also depends upon members of the JCDH Environmental Committee as well as numerous local stakeholders to enhance the educational efforts.
Jefferson County is unique from other counties in that many individual and varied municipal solid waste (MSW) and recycling efforts operate within its borders, operated by numerous hauling companies. However, the types of materials accepted by the different efforts are mostly consistent, because of the limited but competitive nature of the recycling material recovery facilities (MRF). Most of the communities that offer recycling services operate their programs independently. However, they are supportive of a regional approach to educating citizens about the importance of increasing individual participation and the quantities they recycle. All partners of the grant, as well as additional municipalities currently offering recycling, will participate in promoting the Recycle Alabama Campaign and will utilize their collective media connections and education outlets to maximize dollars spent.
People often have individual preferences about the ways in which they receive information, especially when it comes to adopting new ideas or changing behavior. Therefore, the Recycle Alabama Campaign has been created in such a way to provide multiple channels for information dissemination. These include, but are not limited to:
- Creation and publication of a Recycle Alabama Handbook - This booklet was created through a grant from the CAWACO RC&D Council and is meant to help communities of any size (city, county, large business, school) start a meaningful and efficient recycling program. It helps evaluate the need for drop-off centers vs. curbside, sorted vs. single-stream, as well as steps to build each. There is also a Recycle 101 guide included. To download a copy, follow this link to Recycle Alabama Handbook.
- Creation of a single, recognizable logo - This branding is used on all trailers, signage, brochures, advertisements, posters, and other educational materials. Municipalities already engaged in recycling will be encouraged to either adopt the brand or incorporate it within their own materials.
- Development of collateral materials - Brochures, fliers, print ads, posters and other materials have been developed to support the Recycle Alabama Campaign. These materials are distributed throughout Jefferson County at public events and within public buildings to further support the idea of recycling and its benefits.
- Creation of a dedicated website – www.recycleAL.com has been developed for the Recycle Alabama Campaign. Information about recycling opportunities across the state, as well as educational resources, can be found at this site.
- Partnership with community based media and newsletters - Small community newspapers have assisted in educating readers about the benefits of recycling. Ads have been developed and space purchased in these newspapers to further promote the adoption of recycling. Municipalities with newsletters and/or websites are asked to assist in the public education process by printing/posting information about the benefits of recycling as well as the recycling opportunities available for their citizens.
- Community presentation opportunities - A PowerPoint® presentation has been created and offered to elected officials, educators, professional organizations, business leaders, civic clubs, and other groups in order to reach potential early adopters and possible future sponsors for the regional recycling program.
- Partnership with local media - Informational meetings were set with local media outlets (television stations, radio stations, newspaper, magazine, and other print outlets) to inform them of the regional recycling effort and request their support by encouraging public participation. Program progress updates and information about public events are provided to the media on a regular basis. The creation of 15-second public service spots were created as an option for promoting recycling. Utilizing electronic and social media provides the most efficient way to reach the most people in the shortest amount of time.
- Other paid advertising - In addition to placing small print ads in community based newspapers, other cost effective advertising are explored. Outdoor advertising on community posters is one option that would provide a way to encourage and reinforce the adoption of recycling within targeted communities in the region. The location of this type of advertising can be changed periodically in order to remain fresh and immediate to the targeted communities.
- Staff members to manage the campaign – Many of these efforts are planned and coordinated with members of the JCDH Health Action Partnership Environmental Committee, but AEC will has a Recycling Director to manage these efforts. The Recycling Director is responsible for collecting and processing information for existing programs and uploading information to the website. He is also be available to make presentations, speak at local engagements, and interact with local media and educators.