According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), each American citizen generates an average of 4.9 pounds of waste per day. That’s a lot of waste, especially as the figure increases each year. Despite the EPA reporting a 32% recycling rate across the US in 2023, there’s more to be done to build a greener future.

For waste organizations and city governments, it’s important that the engagement techniques they use help influence their communities to participate in waste reduction and recycling initiatives. However, the introduction of new bills like SB 1383 in California and stricter recycling laws being introduced by governments poses new challenges for organizations to deal with. These big changes can leave residents asking a range of different questions, including what the new laws may mean to them, all of which add extra pressure on staff to handle those queries.

In this blog, we’re going to reveal our four top tips for how to improve ‘trash talk’ with the public. We’ll also highlight some successes we’ve seen, and talk about the importance of digital engagement within the waste sector.

1. Understand waste management behaviors

By developing a stronger understanding of residents’ actions and attitudes towards waste management, the more equipped you will be to positively influence behavioral changes within your community.


To get a true reflection of the community’s thoughts, organizations can ask the public more targeted questions which you need answers to. Rather than assuming how the public feels, these questions can be tailored to gather better insight. By doing this, more informed decisions can be made when identifying areas where your organization can improve.

Here are just some of the questions you could ask:

  • Do you know how to recycle household items correctly?
  • What challenges do you experience when sorting your waste?
  • Do you know the waste pick-up schedule in your area?
  • In what ways can the city become more recycle-friendly?

2. Revamp your outreach strategy

The way information is shared with residents can make all the difference in their understanding of how to be more recycle-friendly. Whilst information and guidance can be published online for example, there are plenty of other effective and unique outreach approaches to grab the attention of your community. Here’s how we’ve spread the word about waste.


Across central Contra Costa County, California, RecycleSmart is helping locals distinguish household items that can be recycled and those that should go to landfill. By creating interactive fridge magnets, keychains and other items, over 17.5 days of staff time has been saved as questions on over 300 household items and disposal information can be answered from the comfort of anyone’s own home.

By allowing various items to become interactive touchpoints, more communities are now free to obtain information and updates at their leisure. This helps to eliminate any accessibility barriers which may have previously been faced, making residents more aware of responsible recycling disposal, which will help to enhance their local environment.

3. Improve your customer service

Whilst human interaction is still essential when dealing with the public, customer service teams can often find themselves under a lot of pressure. When they’re inundated with queries to deal with, it can create negative experiences for both the public and your staff. By allowing information to be more readily available, customer service teams can see their workloads lightened, leading to a more stress-free experience for all.


Seen as one of the innovation leaders, the City of Scottsdale has been working on a range of initiatives to improve waste management. For a group of locals, their residential trash cans are sharing how to sort trash, how to dispose of hazardous waste and even highlighting waste pickup times based on their location.

During our time in Scottsdale, we’ve found that 71.4% of residents have asked about their waste collection day, which is one less query that staff have to spend large amounts of time dealing with. As for the community, locals are now more satisfied as they have an easily accessible way to ask their questions about recycling.

4. Embrace a more eco-friendly future

Everyone has a responsibility when it comes to building a more sustainable future. The decisions we make when recycling can contribute to a range of sustainability initiatives, including creating renewable energy and improving our carbon footprint. By making more people aware of effective waste management, we can personally reduce the harmful effects of pollution and emissions.


At the University of British Columbia (UBC), their mission is to enable a 50% reduction in waste by 2030 across their campuses. To work towards this goal, we launched in Canada to educate students and staff about waste management, as well as find out how they feel about climate change.

Here are several ways our interactive conversations are assisting UBC in tackling its waste management challenges:

  • Providing information to campus users on how to get involved in sustainability initiatives across the university
  • Encouraging students and staff to share thoughts on how to make the campus cleaner and more sustainable
  • Answering FAQs about which items can and can’t be recycled at waste points

Since launching at the campus, we’ve been collecting valuable data from across the campus community. We found that 82.2% of users were keen to improve their waste-sorting habits. This important insight is now helping UBC to make smarter waste management plans to reach their sustainability targets.

As you can see, sharing the word about waste initiatives and educating people on recycling management can be achieved on a larger scale than ever before. Exploring fresh and creative approaches with your engagement can help grab the attention of the community and improve accessibility to information. Time-consuming tasks can also be automated, helping to lighten staff workloads and provide a more efficient service.

Above all, improved engagement presents an opportunity for everyone to have an impact on raising recycling rates. By consistently interacting and educating your communities about how they can manage their waste, there’s a greater likelihood that they’ll be willing to recycle and contribute to a greener future for all.

Interested in taking the first step towards creating a ‘recycle-friendly’ community? Reach out to our friendly engagement team in the US via our contact form.