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How to Build Your Recycling Network – Part I

Part One: Subscription Lists, Recycling Networks, and Why They Matter

You’ve built your municipal waste and recycling program, but contamination rates are still through the roof and your compliance numbers are dismal. Or maybe you’re getting traction, but not as much as you should.

What do you do? Start by looking at your resident communication and referral network and evaluate your distribution system. Your residents can’t comply if they can’t be reached, no matter how well-crafted your message is or how elegant your collection system might be. 


The trouble lies in reaching people not just where they live, but where they inhabit the digital world. Creating
 an information page on your website is a start, but according to Recycle Coach statistics, only 16% of residents visit their municipality’s waste and recycling pages.  Email subscription lists have historically been a highly effective means of sending messages out, but they really aren’t designed for two-way communication, nor are they good for sending more than a few specific messages at a time. And while email is still in heavy use in older age groups, younger generations are increasingly abandoning email in favor of text and other app-based communication formats (Source).

Trying to reach so many residents through so many different channels is daunting to say the least, but there are solutions to building your recycling network.  The key to the most effective education and outreachprogram is a well-defined contact list.

What is a subscription list?

A subscription list is a contact database that invites residents to volunteer their communication preferences and opt-in to incoming messaging from your office. It opens the door to a host of education and instructional opportunities.  A well-managed subscription list means the difference between shouting into the wind and an organized, reciprocal communications system. Some benefits of a good subscription list include:

  • Low cost

When residents opt into your subscriber list, they grant you permission to contact them through their platform of choice. Signup options can be integrated into a wide range of existing marketing campaigns and access points, so the cost of growing your list can be absorbed into existing activities. The only additional costs you incur will be for software to manage future messaging, but these tools might already be a part of your waste management communications platform.

  • Direct access

Rather than paying for advertising that may or may not end up reaching your residents, subscription lists give you direct access to anyone who has opted-in, via email, text or other messaging application. Not only does this mean your messages will be seen by a greater number of individuals, but most platforms allow you to track your success rates so you make your communications more effective over time.

  • Superior results

Subscription lists are proven to result in the best ROI across the board because residents volunteer their contact information and actively agree to receive communication from you.

  • Building your list

The best way to reach your residents is through the technology they use the most, which can vary according to age, culture and socioeconomic factors.  Your subscriber list strategy should be adaptable, whether you need to send emails, text messages, push notifications via an app or private messaging on social media. Inclusivity means your message can reach more residents more effectively, and you will enjoy higher compliance rates because you’re speaking to them in their preferred format and platform.

Why it matters

The bottom line is that recycling rates need to get better.  Americans generate 30% of the world’s waste, but recycling rates in the U.S. have stagnated around 34% for nearly a decade.  These numbers are low compared to Europe’s combined 44% rate, and they’re dismal compared to Germany’s best-in-class recycling rate of 87%. Contamination rates cost our recycling facilities money, and it puts an undue burden on waste management services to clean up. Unless we find a better way to communicate best practices, our landfills will continue to grow at an alarming rate.  Subscription lists generate high response rates at low cost, and connecting with your residents is essential if you hope to get the message out. 

logo-green.png About Recycle Coach: Recycle Coach specializes in digital solutions for municipal and private waste management services to effectively educate and engage residents. Our technology platforms for web, mobile, and digital assistants focus on education and encouragement to help residents to be better recyclers, with the goal of inspiring positive and lasting change in communities around the world. It is our constant innovation and scalability of services that allow us to meet the needs of over 3000 communities across the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and more.  

To view all of our free resources for Waste Management Professionals, please click here

To learn more about how Recycle Coach can help  you reach and educate more residents faster, please click here

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