JULY 2009

Georgia starts recycling education campaign

Georgia non-recycler, Tommy Krenshaw and his reason for not recycling was introduced in a new statewide education campaign. Tommy proudly proclaims to all who will listen that he will find a new planet when this one fills up with the materials he and others like him refuse to recycle. He has also taken to wearing his non-recycler status on his T-shirt, in case you missed his excuse.

Sound absurd? Well, mission accomplished. Tommy is just one of the unwitting (albeit fictitious) characters of a new recycling awareness campaign created by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA). The campaign shines a spotlight on these, and other misperceptions, to show what non-recyclers might look like to their friends and families. By highlighting the absurdities behind not recycling, the campaign responds on behalf of the rest of us with “you gotta be kidding!”

“Every time someone bypasses a recycling bin or chooses to throw a can away,” Randy Hartmann, the director of the Office of Environmental Management of DCA explains, “they’re effectively saying, ‘I don’t recycle!’

“They’re wearing their apathy on their sleeve. What we’re saying is that these excuses won’t work anymore.”

“The absurd nature of what these characters say contrasts sharply with the many rational reasons to recycle,” added Hartmann. “Because, unlike what Tommy may say, we can’t just find somewhere else to live when we have used up our natural resources. People interacting with the campaign will come away thinking that, in light of these preposterous alternatives, recycling is a pretty simple proposition.”

The need for the campaign came from a Solid Waste Characterization Study which revealed that approximately 40 percent of what Georgians throw away is actually recyclable. These findings were amplified by a recent DCA survey which showed that a whopping 45 percent of Georgians do not regularly recycle.

Through a media relations and marketing campaign, DCA will drive Georgia residents to the campaign website where the real facts about recycling will be presented in a way that resonates and drives real action. The campaign will target all non-recyclers, but with a special focus on the 25- to 34-year-old group. Research revealed that this group is the least likely to recycle, but also tend to be the easiest to motivate.

Local communities will also take part in the campaign, bringing the characters to life through billboards, in a radio PSA, on coasters in restaurants and in many other ways.