Behavior Change
City of Austin Partners with Keep America Beautiful to Increase Residential Recycling

Keep America Beautiful and the Ad Council have announced that the City of Austin is the first city to partner on their “I Want to Be Recycled” multimedia public service advertising (PSA) campaign, which aims to motivate Americans to recycle every day.

Created by San Francisco-based ad agency Pereira & O’Dell and sponsored by Alcoa Foundation, American Chemistry Council, Anheuser-Busch, City of Austin, Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Nestlé Waters North America, Niagara Bottling, Unilever and Waste Management, the bilingual multimedia campaign illustrates that recyclable materials can be given another life when someone chooses to recycle.

“We’re thrilled that Austin is the first city to join this important initiative. This campaign artfully shows that recyclable materials become something new when someone chooses to recycle,” said Jennifer M. Jehn, president and CEO of Keep America Beautiful. “As one of this country’s most environmentally aware cities, we’re confident that Austin will achieve its goal and Austin residents will take the one simple act of recycling to demonstrate one of their most immediate contributions to keeping Austin beautiful.”

Americans recycle an average of 1.5 pounds out of the 4.4 pounds of trash they produce daily, which totals more than 250 million tons of trash a year. National recycling rates continue to hover at 34.5 percent, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The City of Austin has a goal to keep 50 percent of trash out of landfills by December 2015. On average, City of Austin residential customers recycle 46 pounds monthly. As part of the campaign, the City is now challenging its residents to help achieve the goal by recycling five pounds more each month through television, radio, outdoor, online, social and mobile advertising across the city. The City will also distribute the campaign’s educational materials to schools and other civic organizations to increase awareness about the benefits of recycling.

Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell said, "During the five years I have been mayor, we have gone from being the 14th-largest city in the country to the 11th. With such rapid growth, we need to ensure that Austin continues being one of the most sustainable cities in the nation. We are dedicated to the objective of reducing what goes into our landfills. I hope Austinites will each do their part to help meet this goal."

“We’re currently keeping about 40 percent of materials out of the landfill. With help from all Austin residents, we can make meaningful progress,” said Bob Gedert, director of Austin Resource Recovery, the City of Austin’s trash and recycling department. “We invite everyone to take part in this initiative and rise to the challenge of Zero Waste.”

The City of Austin is localizing the campaign with the city’s branding, and the English and Spanish language campaign will direct audiences to austinrecycles.com. Here, Austinites can find tips and schedules for residential recycling and learn more about the recycling challenge.

“This campaign is about aligning our personal journey and the journey of our waste,” said Rodney Ahart, executive director of Keep Austin Beautiful. “The containers we drink out of, the paper we write on, and even the benches we sit on can be made from recycled materials, if we each take the time to give our garbage another life and recycle.”

A bit further west in Arizona, the City of Phoenix has partnered with Citizen Group and the Sustainability Solutions Services (S3) at Arizona State University (ASU) on the “Reimagine Phoenix” campaign, designed to inspire the four million residents of the Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale area - the 10th-fastest-growing metropolitan area in the US — to increase their waste diversion to 40 percent (up from the current 18 percent) by the year 2020. To further aid in achieving this goal, the Paradise Valley Unified School District — one of Arizona’s largest — announced earlier this month it has partnered with the Mayo Clinic of Arizona, the City of Phoenix and the Resource Innovation and Solutions Network (RISN) — a program operated by S3 — to design a waste-diversion curriculum for students and find new uses for its trash.

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