Social media still just a small piece of recycling outreach pie

Social media still just a small piece of recycling outreach pie

By Dan Leif, Resource Recycling

Nov. 15, 2013

Americans may be Facebook and Twitter addicts, but when it comes to spreading the word about recycling education, social media still takes a backseat to program websites and, in some cases, more traditional media such as TV and direct mail.

A recent technology-focused survey of recycling coordinators across the country found that 98 percent of respondents said they use a website to communicate program details to residents, and 82 percent said either the program website or email was the digital tool they relied on most often for outreach.

Only 71 percent said they use social media for any part of their outreach, and only 16 percent identified social media as the primary digital method they employed.

Not surprisingly, use of technology by recycling coordinators has been on the rise in recent years as Americans' lives have become more tightly intertwined with digital media. The technology survey, undertaken by the industry-funded nonprofit group Curbside Value Partnership (CVP), found that 90 percent of coordinators said their use of the internet in outreach has "dramatically increased" of late, and 81 percent of respondents think digital tools are making it easier to effectively communicate with community members.

Still, the survey found social media in particular is a relatively new strategy for many staffs, with 36 percent of coordinators saying they'd been using social media-based education for less than two years.

In addition, the CVP survey found that more traditional outreach means are not being washed away by the digital wave. For example, 67 percent of respondents said they rely on TV and radio ads or PSAs at the same level or more than they did five years ago, and 57 percent report the same for direct mail outreach.

In related news, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) announced this week it is beginning a partnership with Earth911 to more effectively reach consumers in the digital realm and educate them on recycling behavior and benefits. Earth911's website and email service brings environmental news and tips on low-impact living to a consumer audience, and ISRI will now be working to develop content for those outlets as well as working on polling projects with Earth911's data division. Earth911 is a subsidiary of Quest Resource Holding Corporation.

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