Motivating Businesses to Reduce Waste and Recycle

Summary

Purpose and Introduction

Since 1993, King County Green Works has provided technical assistance, information and recognition to help businesses in King County reduce waste, increase recycling, and buy-recycled products. As part of its ongoing marketing contract, a consultant evaluated the effectiveness of the Green Works Recognition and its related technical assistance program and provide recommendations for possible changes. A three-pronged approach was adopted, consisting of: -an e-mail survey of Green Works Recognition Program participants, -a focus group of businesses who have contacted King County about recycling or waste reduction but are not program members, and, -a strategy meeting of staff members and consultants from Green Works' suburban partners.

Recognition program.

The recognition program is a major element of Green Works, and its effectiveness is uncertain, as membership has remained fairly low (550 members) and few members have upgraded their membership level from "basic" to "distinguished. When asked to rate Green Works benefits, members gave publicity the same percentage of high and very high ratings as they did low and very low (38.2%). When asked what Green Works could do for their business, the recognition program fared about the same. It was the second most selected method of assistance requested, with 41.6% of respondents. Focus group participants and suburban cities representatives had much more detailed comments and recommendations. Focus group participants commented that more needed to be done to raise the profile of the program and promote business recycling in general. None of the participants thought publicity alone would inspire them to become Green Works Recognition Program members, though one felt it was a valuable tool for many businesses. Suburban city representatives recommended more geographically targeted advertising and more flexibility to design incentives that work for individual company needs.

Results

Overall member assessment of Green Works benefits

Members were asked to rate a list of Green Works benefits on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being very low benefit, and 5 being very high benefit. By a large margin, "doing the right thing" was considered the highest benefit of membership, with 78.4% rating it high or very high. The "Green Works newsletter" received the second highest combined positive rating with 44.4%, followed by "publicity" with 38.2% high or very high. "More business" and "use of Green Works logo" were clearly the least attractive benefits, with over 60% rating each low or very low benefit. When members are asked what Green Works can do to help businesses, the results are fairly similar. Respondents were asked to select all that apply from a list of possible benefits, and "providing information" is by far the most important role that Green Works plays. Providing publicity is a distant but clear second place, with 41.6%.

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