Recycling diverts materials from landfills, creates jobs, and improves the environment. But what happens when contaminants such as plastic bags and food scraps end up in the recycling bin? The whole load becomes contaminated and goes into the trash. In Massachusetts, contamination drives up recycling costs for cities and towns, slows down the sorting line at processing facilities, and can increase the risk of worker injuries. To reduce recycling contamination and encourage diversion (like reducing and reusing), the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection launched a statewide education initiative: Recycle Smart MA.
Through creating social media content, deploying targeted digital ads, maintaining the online “Recyclopedia” search tool, and developing interactive website content, ERG supports Recycle Smart MA to educate residents across the Commonwealth about what can and can’t be recycled in Massachusetts. Each month, ERG develops a calendar of social media posts and images that inform MA residents about what items should go in their recycling bins, promote opportunities to reduce and reuse, and highlight relevant local news articles and partner organizations. ERG also maintains and develops new features for the website to educate residents on the lifecycle of recyclables, highlight waste diversion opportunities, and provide resources for becoming a smarter recycler. Most recently, ERG designed and coded the “Beyond the Bin” directory—a digital search tool for locating where to donate or recycle items that can’t go in residential recycling bins but don’t need to go in the trash yet. To ensure that Recycle Smart messages reach all communities, especially those whose residents’ primary language is not English, ERG also builds, executes, and optimizes digital ads on Facebook, Instagram, Google, and Nextdoor. On most of these platforms, ERG serves ads in the top seven non-English spoken languages in Massachusetts: Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin, French, Arabic, Vietnamese, and Haitian Creole. Since ERG started supporting Recycle Smart in 2018, we have helped the platform gain over 28,000 social media followers, reach over 1.2 million website visitors, and accumulate over 10,000 newsletter subscribers.