Council to consider $850000 recycling education contract

The city plans to hire two Nebraska companies that focus on sustainability issues to encourage Lincoln residents and businesses to recycle in anticipation of the cardboard ban at the landfill in 2018.

The companies will focus first on research — learning why people in Lincoln recycle and what is keeping others from recycling — under the $849,600 three-year contract, said Jamie Carson, CEO of Carson+Co Global. 

The Lincoln City Council will hold a public hearing and vote on the contract with Carson+Co Global and Verdis Group at its 5:30 p.m. Monday meeting.

Carson+Co Global, which was founded in 2011 in Washington, D.C., and moved to Lincoln several years ago, is focused on creating effective communication and strategies in sustainability.

It has been involved with Lincoln’s recent Be a Recycling Champion campaign. 

Verdis Group is a sustainability consulting company whose mission is to help organizations identify and implement sustainable solutions. It was founded in Omaha in 2009 by Craig Moody and Daniel Lawse.  

Kim Morrow of Lincoln, former executive director of the nonprofit Nebraska Interfaith Power & Light, is a senior associate at Verdis and will be working on the Lincoln project. 

The initial research, which includes understanding the Lincoln community better, will be used to shape the message and encourage behavior change.

The marketing will include social media, postcard mailings, traditional advertising on radio and TV, community events, and presentations at civic organizations and events, Carson said in an interview. 

The program will be timed initially to the cardboard ban, which begins April 2018, when the city will ban corrugated cardboard from the landfill.

The contract calls for spending about $513,000 in the first of the three years, when the ban begins. 

About half the first-year costs, $225,000, will come from a state grant. 

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Residents and businesses will have to use the free city drop-off sites for cardboard or sign up for curbside recycling with a local garbage hauler to comply with that ban.

The goal of the educational campaign is to increase the use of curbside recycling services first, and promote the use of city drop-off sites.

The companies will also work with businesses, including promotion of a $750 incentive, based on information provided the council. 

The education campaign will use what is called community-based social marketing, which is widely used in the conservation and sustainability world, Carson said. 

That concept includes reinforcing those who already recycle, encouraging and removing impediments to recycling for others and promoting recycling as a valuable mainstream activity.

The project may include a website where residents can more easily sign up for curbside services. 

The goal is to double the city’s recycling efforts — from the previous approximately 25,000 to 30,000 households who recycle — to 60,000 households. 

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