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MAY 2007

City of Omaha sees 5.6% recycling volume increase

Last year, residents of Omaha, Nebraska were asked to “get a bin”. After four months of education, city residents responded by growing recycling volume by nearly 6 percent and increasing requests for curbside bins by 40 percent.

The City of Omaha Public Works Department recently partnered with Washington DC-based Curbside Value Partnership (CVP) to launch a new education campaign called Recycling…It’s O! So Easy! The CVP is a national initiative funded by the Aluminum Can Council, designed to help communities grow participation in their residential curbside recycling programs.

The goal of the partnership with Omaha was to test messaging aimed at increasing the volume and value of materials recycled through their single-steam curbside recycling program. Through the use of media relations, marketing and grassroots outreach the city saw a 40% increase in the number of bin requests during the campaign period.

After the initial campaign launch was completed, data from the local materials recovery facility (MRF) Firstar Fiber, was reviewed and compared to benchmark data. The results from August through December 2006 compared to January through July 2006 showed a 5.6% increase in recycling volume at the MRF.

As the 19th municipality to join the invitation-only CVP, Omaha initiated an extensive grassroots campaign targeted towards pockets of the city with lower levels of participation. The campaign included the development of the colorful slogan, “Recycling…It’s O! So Easy,” the production of billboards, art work for litter cans and bus shelters – in both English and Spanish as well as child-friendly materials for schools.

“Nationwide the average participation rate in curbside programs is 58%. Any growth in this will yield more aluminum and other materials that are in high demand right now,” said Steve Williamson, vice president of ARCO Aluminum and co-chair of the Aluminum Can Council. “Our goal is for all municipalities to come to us for help and take advantage of the free resources that anyone can tap into.”

In addition to leading targeted education outreach efforts, the City also partnered with Keep Omaha Beautiful (KOB) and the Nebraska State Recycling Association to extend messages. Both organizations share the common goal of educating residents on the benefits of recycling at the curb.

For more information on Recycling It’s O! So Easy visit www.omaharecycles.com.


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