In my opinion: community education is a dynamic process

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A Texas Disposal Systems leader offers insight into the company’s communication strategies. | Ground Photo/Shutterstock

At Texas Disposal Systems (TDS), we seek to effect change and cultivate more sustainable consumer choices by prioritizing the education of individuals, municipalities, and our business and community partners. By giving our customers and communities a better understanding of recycling and waste diversion processes, they are more likely to take action to make a difference.

Over the past year, we have dedicated resources to raising awareness of proper methods of disposing of hazardous waste. Our team uses multiple marketing and communication channels to spread the word and change behaviors.

Leticia Mendoza

Leticia Mendoza

Some of our successful tactics include the following:

Community partnerships

We provide essential services to many cities in Central Texas. Through strong relationships with our partner cities, we are able to amplify our message.

In the Austin area, for example, TDS provides recycling services to nearly 50% of all households.

We’ve partnered with Austin Resource Recovery, the city’s recycling service, to raise awareness of the dangers of including lithium-ion batteries in recycling. Through this partnership, customers received important information through multiple channels and from two local entities they know and trust.

Business partnerships

For business partners, TDS strives to be more than a provider of waste management services. When businesses choose TDS, we give them what they need. We also provide education on ways they could manage their waste differently.

For example, TDS partners with event facilities and suppliers, offices, hotels, restaurants/catering services and more. Our sustainability consultant is available to meet with each client company, perform waste audits and recommend better waste management processes.

Waste Wizard

We share information with customers on our website and we also ensure that the same information is accessible in several interactive ways.

For example, we share information about hazardous waste recycling through the Waste Management Wizard tool. Customers can search for specific items they want to get rid of, including batteries, paints, and flammable liquids. They can also get details on the right place for proper disposal so they can create an action plan to get their hazardous waste to one of our approved disposal sites. Additionally, we build quarterly campaigns for our Waste Wizard subscribers that address topics such as hazardous waste.

Blogs

Blog posts from waste management service providers can include valuable information about recycling, composting, and other waste diversion issues. They can educate existing customers as well as people who find them through search engines when looking for related information. These people may not be our customers, but they can still get useful information from our content.

When we create new blog content, we focus on topics that educate and inform our customers. We also strive to create useful content for individuals and businesses, so both groups can gain expert knowledge related to their needs. Here are some examples of these types of blogs: 5 Terrors of Explosive Waste and How to properly dispose of hazardous waste.

Newsletters

Our monthly newsletter is aimed at existing customers and reinforces essential information. In this newsletter, we share useful articles that make recycling attractive and manageable.

We distribute helpful tips and news articles, as well as promote community campaigns or events that allow us to increase diversion. Special services like Christmas tree recycling or the proper disposal of flags is promoted to remind customers that they can rely on TDS for less common waste issues as well as the disposal of their typical waste.

We also present some issues when we know they might be more relevant. For example, hazardous waste issues tend to arise during the summer when high temperatures can make materials more volatile. During the summer months we use the newsletter to refresh customers’ memories on how to properly handle these items.

social media

TDS actively shares information on social media to reinforce issues. While some content is promoted across platforms, we also segment content to align with the audiences most likely to use each.

For example, our LinkedIn content focuses more deeply on resources for businesses, while our instagram offers faster video content and TDS activity in our local community. If there’s an issue or opportunity we want to highlight, we’ll share those details across all social platforms.

On social media, we include a wide variety of content types, so we have plenty of opportunities to grab people’s attention. For example, as we continued our hazardous waste campaign, we used YouTube to share an informative video on disposal of lithium-ion batteries and promoted the video and other posts (text, infographics, etc.) on other social platforms

Getting the word out takes effort and repetition

Marketing’s “rule of sevens” says it takes seven repetitions for people to act on a message. In today’s digital world, it often takes even more to eliminate distractions and get that message across.

When we communicate the same message across multiple channels, it increases the likelihood that people will receive it and change their behavior. When it comes to safe recycling, these changes can make a significant difference to our waste handlers and to the safety of our facilities.

Leticia Mendoza is director of marketing and communications for Texas Disposal Systems (TDS), headquartered in Creedmoor, near Austin.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not imply endorsement by Resource Recycling, Inc. If you have a topic you would like covered in an editorial, please send a short proposal to [email protected] for exam.

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