Waste and Recycling News goes online only

Waste and Recycling News goes online only

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

In a month that has seen the Boston Globe sell for $70 million, a fraction of the $1.1 billion it went for in 1993, and daily newspapers around the country ramp back to four days a week, Waste and Recycling News moved to an online-only news model.

The publication, which launched as a weekly news magazine in 1995 and switched to bi-weekly distribution in 2001, announced it is ceasing print operations and will begin delivering content solely through its website, e-mail newsletters and other digital properties. The Crain Communications-owned brand has seen significant declines in print advertising during the last decade, mirroring a trend that has hobbled much of the U.S. print media market.

According to data compiled by Resource Recycling, ad pages in W&RN have dropped 63 percent since the early 2000s. At its peak, the periodical ran more than 630 pages of advertising per year. In 2012, however, W&RN ran just 250 pages of advertising, accounting for less than 30 percent of the magazine's overall content. By comparison, Waste Advantage, viewed as a major competitor of the Crain publication, inversed those figures, with editorial content accounting for just under a third of its content.

Two additional factors may have led to the decision by Crain Publications to stop printing W&RN. For one, competition among periodicals focused on waste management – W&RN, MSW Management, Waste Advantage and Waste 360 (formerly Waste Age) – had reached new heights in recent years, with Waste Advantage, the newcomer of the group, significantly eroding W&RN's market position.

The other cause for the decision may have had to do with a decades-long trend of consolidation in the waste management industry. When Crain started the periodical almost two decades ago, the magazine was sent to thousands of small- and mid-sized waste hauling and disposal firms that have since been sold to publicly traded giants, such as Waste Management and Republic Services. Firms selling goods and services to the waste management industry in the 1990s saw magazine advertising as an important marketing method to reach these independent firms, causing W&RN to thrive. Now, with many of these goods and services being purchased by centralized corporate purchasing offices, magazine advertising is often seen as a less effective marketing tool, as is evidenced by W&RN and others' recent struggles in gaining sufficient ad space.

By switching to bi-weekly distribution in 2001 and, in 2011, bringing in a new editor and publisher and moving the publication's operations to Detroit from from Akron, Ohio, Crain appeared intent on combating these obstacles in hopes that W&RN could continue its print circulation. Conferences and commemorative issues were also launched, with a "40 Years of Curbside Recycling" slated for this week.

Of course, going digital-only is known to have its own set of challenges. For example, W&RN averaged less than one ad for each of its digital newsletters this summer. Using the company's media kit rates, this would generate approximately $100,000 annually. Also according to the media kit, 37,763 individuals are registered for the W&RN daily news e-mail, and its website receives 45,097 unique visitors each month.

A W&RN source has told advertisers that both the company's online business and its annual conferences are on the market.

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