Recyclist in Waste Dive: When and How to Use the Term ‘Zero Waste’ — and When to Avoid It

While the term “zero waste” may sound fairly straightforward, communicating the meaning of a zero waste pledge can be a bit more challenging. With numerous stakeholders — including residents, city officials, haulers and landfill operators — who may react differently to the term, how can you broach the idea of a zero waste goal? Ultimately, it’s all about the context: to make a zero waste commitment stick, your messaging must resonate within your community and bring key players on board.

In our new op-ed, out today in Waste Dive, we spoke with several leaders who have taken divergent approaches in moving their communities toward zero waste. While they may use different language, they all share the same goal. We believe that’s what matters most.

Read the full op-ed in Waste Dive.

Test-Driving Facebook & Google Ads for Recycling Outreach

One of our ongoing objectives at Recyclist is to increase the number of people who engage with our customers’ recycling websites. To do this, we recently tested a new strategy: paid advertisements on Google and Facebook. We sought to determine whether online ads are an effective outreach strategy, and if so, does one platform outperform the other. (Spoiler alert: Yes they are effective, and Facebook runs away with the win.)

While both are big business — in the first half of 2016, Facebook’s ad revenue was $5.6 billion, and Google’s was a behemoth $17.4 billion — the two companies’ ad sales vary in small but significant ways. Google’s ad system, called AdWords, is based around keywords. A given ad will be shown when someone searches for the keywords tied to the ad and it can compete against all the other relevant ads in an automated auction. Facebook ads are also sold via auction, but instead of keywords, they allow you to target specific age and gender populations (or share your ad with Facebook at large). Critical to our purpose, both companies allow you to limit your ad’s reach to certain geographic locations.


Google AdWords and Facebook Ad Features

Pay per click?
The ad’s owner is charged only when a user clicks on it.
Ad sale via auction?
Ads are entered into an auction with similar ads to determine what is shown to users.
Target by location?
Target ads to users only in certain geographic areas.
Driven by keywords?
Only Adwords are based around keywords that match a user’s search terms.
Target by age and gender?
Only Facebook ads can be targeted to certain age and gender demographics.


In our test, we set up Google AdWords and Facebook campaigns for three of our customers: a mid-sized city, a small town, and a rural county. Each campaign was limited to the geographic area of the jurisdiction and had a strict budget of $10/day. The experiment lasted three months, and the results were compelling. Here is what we learned:

Online ads work

Across the board, our Google and Facebook ads both drove traffic to our customers’ websites. Some ads generated a steady stream of traffic, while others were more of a dribble, but all three websites saw traffic that they otherwise wouldn’t have.

Facebook far outperforms Google

Our Facebook ads outperformed our Google ads by a huge margin. We earned four times the clicks and more than than five times the impressions with Facebook than with AdWords. (An impression is the total number of times the ad is displayed.)

Not only did Facebook ads outperform their Google counterparts in terms of clicks and impressions, but they also cost less. On average, a click on a Google ad cost about four times more than a click on Facebook. Here are the results for $500 spent on each platform:





Avg. Cost Per Click



Why such a significant difference in performance? We have a theory. Google ads are displayed when a user’s search terms match ad keywords, which means our ads were shown only to the people who live in the target locations and searched our specific waste and recycling keywords. In contrast, our Facebook ads were shown to people in the target locations, whether or not they were looking for recycling information. As a result, we believe the Facebook ads reached a much broader population.

You pay only for results

The pay-per-click model of online ads confers a major advantage over print ads. With a newspaper, you run an ad for a set cost, hoping enough people in the circulation happen to see it and respond to it. With online ads, you pay only when someone clicks on your ad. In that sense, the ads you pay for have already proven themselves effective. Even better, you are always in control of how much you spend; set your budget, and the ad stops running once you max out.

You can target specific populations, especially with Facebook

Google and Facebook both allow ad campaigns to target certain geographic areas, but only Facebook can additionally target age and gender demographics, interest groups (e.g., automotive) or behaviors (e.g., purchase history). This is an invaluable tool for outreach managers. If you’re having trouble reaching residents in a certain zip code, or are trying to make a big impact among teens and young families, you can design your Facebook ads for those specific populations and check a few boxes to make sure that’s who sees them.

They’re easy

Setting up the ad campaigns took us only a few hours, with an hour or less of maintenance per week. Facebook and Google also offer tutorials and assistance for new users.

We’re here to help

Through this experiment, Recyclist amassed a trove of data centered around using ads as a recycling outreach strategy, and we’re excited to use our knowledge and experience to set up an ad campaign to lead residents to your Recyclist website. We’ll help you create your ad campaign using strategies we’ve tested and know will work. And, as always, we’ll be on the lookout for new ways to make your outreach simpler, clearer and more effective.

The Results Are In: Municipal Websites Are a Crucial Source of Recycling Information

Over the past several months, multiple studies have shown that residents rely heavily on local government websites for recycling information.

  • In April 2016, the Carton Council reported that, since 2013, there had been a 30 percent increase in the number of people who name city websites as one of their top choices to learn how to recycle a package.
  • In September 2016, the Food Packaging Institute (PDF) found that “A city, county or recycling company’s website is the most widely relied-upon source for recycling information.”
  • In January 2017, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) shared online survey results stating roughly 50 percent of those who receive detailed recycling information say it comes from local government. Among those who need to seek out recycling information on their own, 52 percent rely on internet searches, and 21 percent rely on local government sources.

Clearly, residents are looking to their local governments for recycling information. But according to ISRI, only about half of U.S. adults are actually receiving this information. So what do all these statistics mean for cities, haulers and others invested in the long-term success of recycling? Here are three key takeaways:

  1. Cities and/or counties need clear, accurate, detailed and up-to-date recycling information on their websites. As The 2016 State of Curbside Report from the EPA and The Recycling Partnership states,

“Many communities and municipalities do not provide easy-to-access and easy-to-understand recycling-related information. The reasons behind this are as numerous as the communities…. From websites that need updating to a simple lack of staffing, to out-of-date or missing literature, many communities need to seek out and use available tools and resources to update the recycling-related information offered to the public.”

  1. Because websites are such critical sources of information, don’t leave the success of your own website to chance. If digital publishing is either not your forte or exceeds the limitations of your time, hire someone else or find a partner to do the work with you. This may be a hauler, a JPA or a company like ours. If you end up creating content yourself, make use of resources such as our blog to aid you in finding the right style for your content, honing your writing skills and visualizing statistics.
  1. To improve your recycling rates, it always helps to start at the beginning. Make sure residents know your recycling information exists and can find it quickly in the first place. This means residents should be able to navigate to recycling information easily — within a few seconds of searching. In our experience of evaluating close to 150 municipal recycling websites in California, less than a quarter of local governments achieve this.

If you don’t know where to start, look at other municipal recycling websites for inspiration. Cities such as Stockton, Oakland and Minneapolis all have model sites. If you need more advice or direction, feel free to contact us with questions. We’re always happy to help guide your outreach efforts.

Travelogue of Trash: Recycling in Japan

On a recent trip to Japan, Recyclist project manager Emily Blackmer took some time to explore a whole new side of travel: trash tourism.

Since working at Recyclist, I’ve come to see garbage in a new light. This was particularly apparent on a recent trip to Japan, where I found myself inspired to photograph public trash cans, curbside recycling, and a municipal recycling guide hanging on a guesthouse wall. With a background in anthropology, I also appreciate that waste is a cultural phenomenon: what we dispose of and how we do so can serve as a window into what we value, both materially and otherwise. In that spirit, here’s some of what I’ve learned about Japanese trash and the country that produces it.

You Must Sort

Properly sorting trash and recyclables is paramount in Japan. In lieu of public trash cans, there are public sorting bins, where one can dispose of materials in categories such as “Combustibles, etc.,” “Newspapers & Magazines,” and “Cans, Bottles & PET Bottles.”

Japanese residents must sort all their waste into as many as 10 (or more) different categories. Let’s just say that single stream is not a thing. In a country where rules are made to be followed, erring in your sorting, using the wrong bags and other recycling wrongdoings risk the ire of your neighbors or a reprimand from authorities. To make things more difficult, waste regulations vary greatly from one place to another; how you sort in one place may be completely different from how you sort in another. Perhaps unsurprisingly, how to navigate Japan’s waste disposal system has become the subject of numerous blog posts for foreigners and articles by disgruntled expats.

Recycling out for collection in a residential Tokyo district.

Follow the Gomi Guide

Between all this sorting and the high degree of local variability, recycling guides — called Gomi guides — are essential. Long and packed with detail, these documents function as comprehensive waste disposal guides — much like Recyclist’s Ultimate Recycling Guide.

I came across a print example of a Gomi guide on the walls of a guesthouse, and have since found digital copies from other towns. (Here are two PDFs from Nagaizumi and Kutchan.) The print version, from the small mountain town of Myoko-kogen, meets most of Recyclist’s standards for good communication: logically organized with scannable headlines, clear images and actionable text. More impressive may be the fact that multiple towns are publishing their Gomi guides in English (not a fluent language for most locals). Making information accessible to a broader range of people is always going to improve results.

A page from Myoko-kogen’s Gomi guide.

Saving Space

So why does Japan take proper waste disposal so seriously? Much of the answer goes back to the age-old clash of geography and population. Japan is a relatively small and mountainous island nation; it ranks 62nd among countries in terms of land area, and over 70 percent of its territory is covered in mountains. Meanwhile, its population ranks 11th in the world. At odds with one another, these realities means that usable land is in short supply. If space is scarce, most people agree that landfills are a terrible way to use what you have.

Recognizing the shortage, in the 1990s Japan developed its current comprehensive recycling programs. Japanese waste management also relies heavily on waste-to-energy (WTE), the sometimes-controversial practice of burning garbage to generate power and reduce landfill use. While Japan is not the only country to use WTE extensively, it is certainly a leader in the practice: 2011 estimates located 70 percent of the world’s WTE plants in Japan, burning about 75 percent of the country’s waste.

So what am I taking away from this newfound knowledge? To be honest, I’m struck that Japanese recycling is so, well, Japanese. This isn’t as simplistic as it sounds — what I mean is that waste management is a culturally rooted phenomenon. In Japan, I saw this in the adherence to rules and regulation, the forward-thinking tech solutions, and the inescapable reality of living on mountain-covered islands. Across the world, the choice to toss, recycle or keep is steeped in social norms, communal values and often even our ties to a given geography. This presents us with an opportunity: recycling programs and outreach efforts can maximize success through a focus on local values and practices.

Recyclist Turns One!

Recyclist turns one year old this month! In February 2016, our first customers started using the cloud-based solutions we designed to help communities move toward zero waste. Our first product to launch was the Public Education Platform, a website, email and social media service that simplifies recycling outreach in a way that’s never been done before. Recent studies show that residents are increasingly relying on local government and web-based information to find out how to recycle properly. Our platform targets these behaviors head-on.

This past November we also launched our Commercial Outreach App, a database-driven app designed to help municipalities and haulers conduct and track outreach to businesses and multi-family properties, generate waste assessments and cost estimates, and facilitate compliance with commercial recycling and organics laws. Four municipalities have already signed on as customers.

Our products are currently used in cities and counties across California, with a total population reach of over two million.

We’re thrilled that we’ve made so much progress for our customers and their communities this year, and we can’t wait to see what this next year will bring. You can read more about our journey in our latest press release (PDF).

The State of Recycling in 2016: In Need of Better Outreach

The Recycling Partnership and the EPA released the 2016 State of Curbside Recycling report yesterday. The report identifies Areas of Opportunity, or ways in which residential recycling programs can be strengthened and broadened. As quoted below, several of these opportunities revolve around improved communication, education and outreach — challenges that waste and recycling professionals have been tackling for years. Very rarely does one recycling manager or municipal waste department have the time, funding, and expertise to independently create the kind of public outreach that is needed — digital, multi-pronged, consistent, easy to find and easy to understand. These are the problems we strive to solve with our Public Education Platform, by not only providing great websites and digital communication tools, but also by doing the heavy lifting of creating content and updating information. And for DIYers, our blog is filled with ideas and insights about how any solid waste department can improve its own recycling outreach.

The Areas of Opportunity to improve and expand residential recycling are based on the results of the joint research study, as well as the experience and insight of The Recycling Partnership’s staff. Recyclist’s own mission developed as a direct response to some of these same issues (read more of our story). Here’s what we’re doing to move from opportunity to reality:

Opportunity: Consistent Messaging

“‘What is recyclable?’ is a central question among program participants and program coordinators and is one of the most widely varying answers in the survey.”

This question is our very raison d’être. Recycling rules are complicated, change over time and vary greatly from place to place. So at the core of our work is providing cities and counties with up-to-date, locally accurate recycling guides that people can access anywhere and everywhere, including on the phone in their pocket, not just crumpled up in the back of a kitchen drawer. But we know that understanding what’s recyclable requires more than just having a recycling guide. You have to make sure your guide is searchable, easy to find and leverages graphics and clear language. You also need to make sure residents consume the information on a regular basis. It’s for these reasons that we built our Public Education Platform around a website that’s easy to navigate, a recycling guide that’s dead-simple to use and local information that’s always clearly communicated.

Opportunity: Consistent Information

“Both from the research collected and in our experience, many communities and municipalities do not provide easy-to-access and easy-to-understand recycling-related information.”

Visibility and clarity are so important, especially now, in the age of digital information. No single recycling program manager has the time to keep a recycling guide up-to-date and write blog posts and tweet and post to Facebook and send out newsletters with any kind of frequency. For those managers who — quite understandably — don’t have the time, our subscription service includes a website, a recycling guide, emails reminders, ready-made social media content, and monthly newsletters. The information we provide to our customers is always consistent, locally accurate and regularly updated.

Opportunity: Waking the Sleeping Giant of Multi-Family Recycling

“During the research it became clear that there is a great opportunity to understand and improve the other major form of residential recycling — multifamily collection.”

Our Public Education Platform websites always provide tips and best practices for recycling programs in multi-family housing and apartments, for both residents and owners. Check out our demo site for an example.

We also are helping municipalities and haulers improve multi-family recycling programs through our Commercial Outreach App. The app comes loaded with a local data set that identifies the size and location of all the multi-family dwellings in a jurisdiction, along with estimated generation levels. It also enables program managers to conduct and track outreach efforts, and to generate, via mobile app, on-the-spot waste assessments and recommendations for multi-family property managers.

The bottom line is that we’re passionate about improving recycling, we know how to deliver state-of-the-art outreach, and we work with cities, counties and haulers to do just that. Learn more about what we do or take a look at our recent blog posts for DIY outreach tips.

On Clamshells and Clarity: Unpacking the Latest Research on Recycling Communication

The Foodservice Packaging Institute (FPI) recently released the results of a survey conducted to better understand how language, images and instructions affect communication about recycling. Chief among the results are broad findings about where residents look for recycling information, as well as some specific communication do’s and don’ts. For example:

  • Residents rely on city websites for local recycling information, so websites should be easy to navigate and kept up-to-date. (This corroborates recent research by the Carton Council.)
  • On brochures and flyers, recycling information should be grouped by material categories, e.g., glass, plastic, paper.
  • Residents are more likely to understand the terms “plastic container,” “foam container,” and “take-out container” than the term “clamshell.”
  • When describing what kinds of paper goods can be recycled, the phrase “empty and clean” is more useful than “no food-soiled.”
  • To communicate that items such as paper bags must be empty to recycle, images should clearly show that the bags are empty.

While these findings may seem too narrow to be useful, they support several overarching concepts that are central to successful public communication, especially in an industry as complex as waste management. After studying the research results, we’ve identified three strategies that you can draw on to improve your outreach and education efforts. These practices guide our own public messaging and top our list of recommendations to those seeking to step up their outreach. Most importantly, these communication strategies are proven to work.

Avoid Jargon

Municipal solid waste. Organics. Contamination. HHW. Residential Curbside Pickup. The waste industry is steeped in jargon, and it can be difficult to remember that many of these terms are unfamiliar to the average recycler. We recommend this jargon litmus test: If you think a word or phrase may be jargon, step back to ask yourself, Would someone who has never recycled before know this term? If the answer is no, try looking for an alternative. For example, “municipal solid waste” can be described to residents as plain old “household garbage.” Or make use of synonyms: in our Recycling Guide, searching for “clamshell,” “plastic container” and “take-out container” will all lead you to the same place. For a term that has no easy synonym, offer a straightforward explanation of its meaning the first time you use it.

Use Images

Sometimes writing seems to hinder more than it helps. Word choice, grammar, syntax, reading level — these are just a few of the obstacles on a writer’s way to clarity. So when your goal is to communicate information to a broad swath of the public in the most effective way possible, a picture really is worth a thousand words. An empty and clean pizza box looks the same in both English and Spanish, and a picture of a clamshell (or plastic container) makes the term you use to describe the item much less important. That’s why we place prominent photos on every page of our Recycling Guide and feature them in the search tool.

Use Actionable Language

The survey results show that the phrase “Recycle clean pizza boxes” is a more useful instruction than the phrase “No food-soiled pizza boxes.” This is a prime example of the power of actionable language — that is, words and phrases that directly convey an action or a behavior. Instructions to recycle clean pizza boxes tell people what they can do — recycle — and when they can do it — if the pizza box is clean. On the flip side, the instruction “no food-soiled pizza boxes” opens a Pandora’s box of interpretation issues: What does food-soiled mean? How much food makes an object soiled? What about grease? To be as clear and motivating as possible, rely on verb-based phrases describing the actions people can take and terminology that doesn’t require much interpretation.

About the Survey

This research was conducted via a five-minute online survey that reached 1,000 homeowners across the United States. Equal number of respondents were men and women. Learn more.

Making Sense of Big Numbers in a Big Industry

In the solid waste and recycling industry, we hear statistics all the time. The amount of hazardous waste produced each year could fill the Superdome 1500 times. A coal-fired power plant generates 3.4 million metric tons of CO2 each year. Humans cut down 15 billion trees each year.

That’s a lot of information, but what do these statistics actually mean to us?

Unfortunately, not as much as they could. Try to visualize 3 million tons of trash, 30 million tons of trash and 300 million tons of trash. Can you even picture the difference?

For most of us, numbers at this scale are difficult to make sense of. That’s why, when you perform outreach of any kind, statistics often aren’t effective in their raw form. They need to be housed in appropriate, meaningful language. This is where comparisons come in. When you have a statistic that’s important, find a way to compare or equate it to something concrete and easy to visualize.

The tricky part of this is figuring out what is easy to visualize. Because if the comparison is just as obscure as your original statistic, e.g., 1500 Superdomes, it’s not effective. So how can you make comparisons that don’t get lost in the ether? Here are a couple of strategies that will help.

Use Online Tools

The EPA has two great tools for us. The first is the Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator. This calculator accepts either energy usage data, such as quantities of gasoline or electricity, or emissions data, such as quantities of CO2 and other environmentally harmful gases. Then, it translates the data into a slew of comparisons for you to choose from. It’s great because it can help you hone in on a comparison with a smaller number — one that is easier on the human imagination. We put this tool to use in a blog post about the environmental benefit of recycling your clothes:

If everyone in the U.S. recycled their clothing and textiles for one year instead of throwing them away, it would save 30.6 million metric tons of carbon emissions. That’s the same as taking all the cars in Los Angeles off the road for one year.

We took the statistic from Business Wire — 30.6 million metric tons of CO2 — plugged it into the calculator, and received a ton of information.


Notably, one of the comparisons the tool offers is 6.4 million passenger vehicles driven for one year. This number isn’t especially useful by itself, but after a little research, we discovered that this is roughly the number of cars currently registered in LA County. Considering the notorious traffic in the City of Angels, we thought this was a perfect way to visualize the positive impact that recycling can have. It’s also a much more relatable comparison than, say, 9 coal-fired power plants.

So don’t feel limited to repeating the exact results you get from this calculator — you can easily translate the numbers one step further. For example, the electricity used by thousands of homes could be translated into the electricity used by all the homes in a well-known city. Or, millions of acres of forest could be translated into the size of a state. The possibilities are endless — just choose one that’s small in number and represents a size or quantity that will be relatable for your audience.

The second tool from the EPA is the iWARM Widget. This tool shows how much energy you can save through recycling. However, instead of showing energy in kilowatt-hours, it shows energy via the length of time you could power various electronic devices.



Let’s say you wanted to highlight how much energy you save by recycling plastic grocery bags. If you recycle 10 bags, how much energy does that save? As it turns out, enough energy to run a computer for 3.9 hours.



That’s pretty convincing, right? You can either use this tool for your own data purposes, or embed the iWARM Widget into your website, so residents can see for themselves the impact of recycling on energy use.

Use Infographics

If you’re still not jazzed about how great your information might look with the help of these comparison tools, let’s consider another communication tool: infographics. Statistics don’t work when we can’t visualize them, right? Then combine your numbers with images so your audience can actually see them.

The article “Land of Waste” by Save on Energy uses several infographics to help the reader see the piles of waste growing across the U.S. The table below isn’t quite as fancy as their animated maps, but it does a good job of scaling the amounts of trash from the individual level to the national level, and from a daily level to an annual level. This is highly effective in reinforcing the consequences of an individual’s daily choices.



For another, simpler example of effective visual comparisons, check out The Guardian’s article “From Field to Fork: The Six Stages of Wasting Food”. Instead of showing percentages in a chart of some kind, this article shows percentages in small, illustrated piles of a particular type of food — the resource that’s actually at stake.


Want to create your own infographic but not sure where to start? Check out Creative Bloq’s recent roundup of the best tools out there.

Ultimately, the purpose of communicating any kind of statistic is to educate and inspire behavioral and cultural change. Once you have important information, don’t drop the ball and communicate it in scientific jargon or unfathomable quantities. Figure out a way to translate it into something meaningful. Otherwise, you’re not going to convince anyone to play who isn’t already in the game. When you make numbers tangible and personal, you make them relatable — and thus powerful.

For more ideas on motivational messaging, check out our post on Market-Tested Language to Inspire Environmental Action.

SWANApalooza Ski Day in Tahoe

Recyclist and SWANA are excited to offer SWANApalooza conference attendees the opportunity to spend a day skiing in the iconic Lake Tahoe area. Sign up below to join us for a day at Northstar California, which offers stunning views of the lake, ski terrain from beginner to advanced, and a variety of activities and amenities.

Eager to show off our beautiful backyard, the Tahoe-based Recyclist team will be your tour guides for the day, sharing local history and stories, and showing you the best trails on the mountain.

The event will be capped at 25 people. Spots will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Skiers and snowboarders alike are welcome.

Date & Schedule

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The group will depart Reno by bus in the morning (approx. 7:30am), get outfitted with equipment, then break into groups for skiing and exploration. We will all convene for an on-mountain lunch midday. In the afternoon, there’s time for more skiing, or enjoying Northstar’s village and shops. We’ll be back at the hotel between 4 and 5pm.


There are two registration levels:

  • Lift ticket and transportation with equipment rental – $180
  • Lift ticket and transportation without equipment rental – $130  **Please note: if you select this registration, you should plan on bringing your own equipment.

Lunch and incidentals will be paid individually.


If you have questions, or are eager to experience the mountains but less sure about skiing, please contact Recyclist’s Project Manager (and former professional cross-country ski racer) Emily Blackmer at


Registration for the ski day is open! If you haven’t yet registered for SWANApalooza, you can register for the conference and the ski day at the same time. Or, if you have already registered for SWANApalooza, you can add the ski day by clicking “View or Change Your Existing Registration” on the log-in page. Register now.


Let the Yellow Pages Be Bygone

For a long time, the yellow pages were the final word on local businesses and services, including recycling information. Need to find a copy shop, a pizza or how to recycle old tires? It was all in the yellow pages. But in the past decade or so, the internet has become a major player in nearly every aspect of daily life. Meanwhile, the phone books dropped on our doorsteps have grown thinner and thinner. Old habits die hard, though, both for businesses that buy ads and for the public who use phone book directories. So in the era of the internet, what’s the role of the yellow pages?

As it turns out, the marketing punditry enjoys this topic. We searched the internet high and low, and everyone — from to marketing professionals to a Reddit thread — agrees that print yellow pages have ceded their dominance to online search (including internet yellow pages). Marketing analysts take data seriously; here’s a slice of what they had to say:

  • In 2011, a columnist reported that up to 80 percent of the time, consumers use an internet search first when looking for a new product or service. And that was five years ago.

However, this doesn’t mean that the yellow pages are totally, completely, shot-to-the-heart dead. For certain demographics, primarily the rural elderly, a good old-fashioned phone book might still work. But unless your business specifically caters to that population — offering a personal transportation service, for example — you’re unlikely to get much bang for your buck.

To get the full story, we decided to let the publishers speak for themselves. When we contacted the Yellow Pages company to ask about listing a mini recycling guide in the directory for a mid-sized California county, the sales rep quoted almost $2,000 per annum for a quarter-page ad. And then to our surprise, he said that even though his job was to sell yellow pages ads, he wanted to be transparent with us: He didn’t think the ad would be worth it.

If and when people still use the yellow pages, they are often seeking a very specific service. If you’re a plumber who offers on-call help in emergency situations, then you might well receive calls from people who found you in the yellow pages. But people tend not to browse the yellow pages anymore, the sales rep said. Instead, they use the internet: searches for local services, products, news and information are all increasingly taking place online.

The bottom line? The print yellow pages are no longer the right place to advertise recycling information. If you’re determined to have some sort of listing, go no further than a name and a URL (i.e., My Town’s Municipal Waste & Recycling Department, The internet yellow pages may or may not be worth it for local business advertising, but they don’t make sense for local recycling information. Your best bet is a great website, a strong search engine optimization (SEO) strategy and targeted, effective outreach that finds your residents where they already are — online.