May 2022

9 ways to be more effective in your recycling communications


Creating effective waste and recycling communications can be tough. Often, working on waste and recycling education and community behaviour change can feel a lot like persuasion. But the good news is: help is available!

When you make a compelling argument based on data, you can build better campaigns and messaging, target problem areas, and make a lasting impact on your community and the environment through increased programme participation and compliance.


Sounds good, right?

We’re going to delve deeper into how to do all of this to ensure you’re more effective than ever in your waste and recycling communications.


How to Be More Effective in Your Waste and Recycling Communications:

1. Empower your residents

Simply put, when you empower your residents, you empower your community. Your audience needs to know they can make a difference through recycling, otherwise, it’s just another item on the to-do list. A community that understands its own great power to create change represents an indomitable force for good.

How to do it?

Provide practical, relatable waste statistics in print, online, and when you’re speaking. It also requires doing your research including quantities and items that will speak to your audience.

Example: If you recycle XX cans per week, at the end of the year you’ll have saved enough aluminum to build a XX!


2. Get into their heads!

It’s time to go after the brains of your would-be recyclers and get into the psychology of recycling with your waste and recycling communications. According to psychologists, the human brain is hardwired to seek three things: affiliation, accuracy, and positive self-concept. Make your residents feel like they’re part of something bigger, provide accurate information, and encourage ongoing recycling with positive reinforcements. This includes monthly “success statistics” on your website and social media.

Example: a success statistic could be a positive participation percentage. This can also make your recyclers feel as though they’re part of a larger movement.


3. Focus on digital experiences

For younger audiences, engaging online experiences is another key to maintaining attention and building trust.

From the start, provide real-time access to recycling information online. You can do this using website tools and mobile apps that help people to self-serve and become better recyclers (such as the Collection Calendar or Waste Wizard provided by Webaspx ReCollect tools).




4. Use the 1, 5, 50 rule

New to the 1, 5, 50 rule?

It works like this – the Recycling Partnership’s guidance for matching the message to the medium says you can successfully plant:

  • A single idea in a mass medium
  • Five things during a face-to-face meeting
  • 50 or more ideas in a searchable database

In other words, don’t try to deploy recycling “rules” in your local community meeting. Instead, argue for recycling itself and present a website URL or your waste and recycling app for specific information.

(Learn more about modernising your recycling communications from our webinar).


5. Stay positive

The future risks and current outcomes of climate change and environmental degradation are real—but you can find better ways to tell the story of recycling than through the lens of gloom and doom. According to the University of Arizona, messages framed positively are often more persuasive. So, focus on the positive aspects of recycling in your waste and recycling communications for the best outcomes.

Example – No: Don’t throw away cans and bottles. Yes: Recycle cans and bottles to save natural resources and keep our waterways clean!


6. Avoid sharing personal strongly held beliefs

Most waste and recycling educators identify as environmentalists. However, when the goal is behaviour change the most effective waste and recycling communications are those which focus on real challenges that impact directly on the audience individually or their community.

Stick to ideas which everyone can embrace:

  • Conserving natural resources
  • Creating local jobs
  • Building fewer landfills – no one wants to live near a landfill!

These are all persuasive, pro-recycling talking points. While the melting of polar ice caps due to human-driven climate change is real, focusing on the problem isn’t likely to help recycling champions gain many followers.


7. Ditch the jargon

Remember when you didn’t know the meaning of MRF? Your recyclers still don’t know because they don’t work in the industry. Jargon is confusing. So, save it for conferences and peer discussions, not community messaging. Call your MRF what it is — a municipal recycling facility or recycling centre.


8. Build a digital brand

This may sound scary to waste professionals. Especially those on a tight budget who have typically needed to rely on existing structures to communicate.

The good news is, technology is more accessible and affordable than ever, and out-of-the-box solutions for waste and recycling have come a long way.

Your residents lead increasingly busy lives: They don’t just expect you to provide information digitally, they need it so that they can understand how to do the right thing with their waste to clean up the confusion!


9. Get help with your waste and recycling communications to widen your reach

The reality is that there’s a lot of skill that goes into crafting an effective message for your waste and recycling programs. Use these tips to make sure your waste and recycling communications are to the point, and on target audience, you’ll be well on your way to increasing participation in your recycling programme!


Looking for more help crafting your messaging? You’re in the right place.


To find out more about digital recycling communication tools to support resident recycling education follow the link to our on demand webinar below:


Modernising your waste and recycling communications programme




Back to Blog




This site uses cookies that enable us to make improvements, provide relevant content, and for analytics purposes. For more details, see our Cookie Policy. By clicking Accept, you consent to our use of cookies.