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 From websites that need updating to a simple lack of staffing, to out-of-date or missing literature, many communities need to seek out and use available tools and resources to update the recycling-related information offered to the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.

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