How I Spent My Grant: Awareness and zombies in Georgia county

How I Spent My Grant: Awareness and zombies in Georgia county

by Suki Janssen, Waste Reduction Administrator, Athens-Clarke County Recycling Division

Feb. 26, 2014

Here's our first installment of "How I Spent My Grant," a feature that takes a look at the ways recycling programs translate funding into actionable ideas. Does your municipality have a grant implementation success story? Email details to


Municipality: Athens-Clarke County (Georgia) Solid Waste Department

Grant: Curbside Value Partnership (CVP) Program 1: Matching Education grant ($5,000) and Program 2: CVP Test Kitchen grant ($10,000 and $15,000 marketing and creative support from CVP); awarded in summer 2013.


Athens-Clarke County (ACC) Recycling Division was selected to test traditional advertising using such outlets as print, radio and outdoor advertising to increase curbside recycling in the ACC Urban Service District (USD).

The ACC Recycling Division worked with CVP and DMC Agency LLC to create a marketing campaign around the idea of "Recycle MORE" and the website. The MORE logo was used on five billboards, multiple ACC Transit buses (both inside posters and partial bus wraps), ACC Solid Waste Department truck wraps (both curbside trash and recycling trucks along with the ACC Recycling Division pick-up truck), and on T-shirts and plastic drink tumblers.

In addition to the traditional marketing pieces, the ACC Recycling Division held a two-hour Recycle MORE Day at a community recycling drop-off site located in Athens-Clarke County during the test period (more on the period below). This event hosted a live radio remote and offered an outlet for community residents to recycle all traditional materials plus MORE (nontraditional materials like medicine, batteries and bulbs). Participants at this event received Recycle MORE T-shirts and tumblers as a special thank you.

For three months, ACC Recycling Division measured curbside recycling rates for both inside the USD and in the General Service District (GSD). The GSD was used as the control group and didn’t see the MORE marketing pieces.

During the three month test period (August to October 2013) the curbside tonnages were as follows: GSD – 659 tons for 11,125 residents (118.47 pounds per resident) and USD – 536 tons for 8,500 residents (126.11 pounds per resident).

During the test period ACC realized a 5 percent increase in incoming tonnage from the previous three-month time period and a 3 percent increase from the same three-month period during the previous year.

Additionally, once the test period was over, the ACC Recycling Division expanded the MORE campaign to promote the placement of the new single stream pedestrian recycling bins in downtown Athens. There were 32 recycling bins “married” to 32 existing pedestrian trash cans. The recycling bins were created with the assistance of and feature easy-to-empty compartments, rain caps, green color and colorful stickers to differentiate them from the trash containers.

Finally, the ACC Recycling Division created a 60-second public service announcement promoting the proper use of the downtown recycling bins and recycling MORE. The ACC Recycling Division piggy-backed on the mainstream zombie craze (and the MORE campaign) and had staff members dress as zombies and take over the downtown for the making of the zombie PSA: It featured mindless zombies trashing recyclables in the downtown district instead of recycling. The PSA was unveiled just before Halloween and the same week as the season opener of the AMC show "The Walking Dead." The PSA was featured on local cable channels including AMC, Comedy Central, FX, History Channel, MTV, SyFy, Cartoon Network, VH1 and our local government station. To view the PSA, click here (click on Recycle MORE … Zombies!).

In summary, ACC Recycling Division was able to leverage its resources along with the original grant monies to create a fun and timely marketing campaign to reach a diverse community. The ACC Recycling Division staff encourages everyone to Recycle MORE so we are spared from the Zombie Apocalypse.

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