Click Here to return home

Multifamily Outreach — King County

Link - Container Labels - Acrobat Format

Multilingual labels used to differentiate recycling and garbage. A free tote (bottom photo) makes it convenient for all residents to recycle.

Read a memo from Cascadia Consulting which provides a brief summary of the Multifamily BBQ and Recycling Fair at the Avenues Apartments located in Waste Management's Unincorporated King County WUTC service territory.

Link - Recycling Reminders - Acrobat Format

Sample Recycling Reminders would be customized for residents of a specific multifamily site.

Link - Invitation - Acrobat Format

An example of an invitation to a free community barbecue and recycling fair, made available in English and Spanish.

Link - Move In Resources - Acrobat Format

Read Move In Resources, a tip sheet highlighting ways to minimize waste during a move.

In King County, the focus of the multifamily outreach was on developing, piloting and evaluating three sets of culturally competent outreach tactics, materials and tools for conducting outreach with Hispanic/Latino residents.

In partnership with a multicultural steering committee and King County, WM developed and piloted a culturally competent, Spanish-language door-to-door outreach pilot for Latino multifamily residents in King County.

Over the course of 2013 WM, King County, Cascadia Consulting and multicultural outreach specialists, ECOSS, Eco-Lógica, and T.D. Wang, worked together to design, implement, and evaluate a culturally competent multifamily pilot project focusing on the Hispanic Latino population of King County. The pilot methodology was developed in a deliberate planning process to decide which culturally competent outreach and engagement strategies would be used as part of this pilot program.

The chosen strategies were divided into a set of five "best practice basics," including four related to recycling infrastructure and one related to resident engagement. These strategies were implemented at all test properties, and two additional resident engagement strategies were implemented at a subset of test properties.

Pilot sites were selected based on initial waste audits conducted at 26 multifamily properties in King County. Properties were selected based on county priorities, such as those with large numbers of Hispanic residents, low recycling rates, and/or high levels of garbage contamination in the recycling stream. The full project team selected eight test sites and three control sites that met project criteria, including large numbers of Hispanic Latino residents, alignment of the property with key project goals and objectives, and responsive property managers.

The project team designed a variety of materials and tools for resident engagement and pilot evaluation, including reusable tote bags with key messages in English and Spanish, oversized multilingual identification stickers for garbage and recycling containers, transcreated recycling guidelines, an English/Spanish "Move In/ Move Out Recycling Resources" flyer, bilingual recycling quizzes and surveys, and English/Spanish recycling reminder cards. The project team discussed engaging and culturally appropriate language to be included in these materials, and decided on slogans and images that would resonate with the Hispanic Latino community.

The project team conducted a variety of evaluation activities during the course of this pilot project, and a number of evaluation activities are underway in early 2014. The final results of the pilot project will not be available until February 2014.

Onsite Waste Audits

A major project evaluation component involved waste audits at test and control properties throughout the duration of the pilot program, starting with baseline data collection waste audits. Field staff conducted three rounds of audits to measure the waste and recycling quantities and composition before, during, and after implementing strategies. Based on the container dimensions and in-field measurements of fullness, field staff calculated the total volumes of garbage and recyclables. Field staff also conducted observations of illegal dumping and bulky item disposal in and around containers.

The project team also used data from the waste audits to develop estimates of average waste generation and waste composition for multifamily properties on a per-unit per-week basis. This enabled the study team to assess whether the best practice benchmarks used in the site assessments as part of this pilot—such as the assumed average waste generation of 0.40 cubic yards per unit per week—were accurate.

A final round of waste audits were conducted at pilot properties during the first quarter of 2014. Once data from these audits are collected, the project team will be able to fully assess the effects of pilot strategies on recycling quantities and contamination at test properties.

Pre- and Post-Outreach Resident Surveys and Quizzes

Outreach staff collected evaluation data from residents at the beginning of door-to-door outreach interactions, and is collecting evaluation data from residents again in a final round of door-to-door visits that occurred in January and February 2014. Once collected, compiled, and analyzed, data obtained from these qualitative evaluation tools will help provide insight into the pilot's impact on resident recycling awareness and habits.

Time and Cost Analysis

Throughout the pilot project, the project team closely tracked labor time, expenses and other costs related to designing, implementing, and evaluating the pilot. Once pilot activities are fully completed, the project team will estimate the cost and time per property and per occupied unit spent for pilot activities, and will compare the costs of pilot strategies to the outcomes achieved.

While the effects of the pilot project on recycling outcomes is still being evaluated, the project team has identified a number of lessons learned and recommendations related to project design and implementation.

Pilot Implementation Process

Establishing trust and maintaining communication with property managers requires ongoing investment, but is critical for success. Sending an official letter from WM to the property managers (PMs) about the project helped to gain their trust and engagement at the start of the project. It was also important to maintain ongoing communication to ensure property managers were clear about what infrastructure changes were recommended and what the impacts would be on the property's service levels and costs.

Even after service and infrastructure changes were made, it was necessary to continue to check on properties' capacity and property managers' needs over time. Determining the best ways to communicate with each individual property manager up front helped to ensure efficient communication throughout the duration of the project, but staff still invested a lot of time making contact with property managers throughout the project through phone calls and in-person visits. Property manager engagement, though, made it easier for staff to gain property access and to conduct outreach and waste audits efficiently.

Involvement of WM operations staff is crucial to ensure recommended infrastructure and service changes are feasible. The project team quickly learned the importance of determining the feasibility of proposed infrastructure and service changes with WM operations staff when finalizing service level recommendations for pilot properties. Each test property had unique container, service frequency and container location needs, and development of appropriate recommendations depended on input from WM operations staff as well as property managers. Similarly, successful implementation of infrastructure and service changes required close coordination between project staff and the WM operations team.

Additional time is needed for development of materials adhering to cultural competency principles. Materials developed based on cultural competency principles, reviewed by a full project team, and translated or transcreated required more time for material development and review. In order to prepare quality materials in time for door-to-door outreach and other implementation and evaluation activities, sufficient time must be allowed for material development, review, printing, and shipping.

Time of outreach had lower than expected effects on resident interaction rates, but did affect length of interactions. The outreach staff attempted outreach at a variety of times, including evenings, mornings, and weekends, and discovered that ideal times for finding people at home varied significantly across properties, with some properties having many residents at home in the mornings, while others had more residents at home in the late afternoon. Overall, though, the time of outreach did not measurably change resident interaction rates. However, outreach staff found that when visits were conducted between 4-6 pm, residents who were home had less time for interactions than residents reached at other times of day, as most were busy with dinner or children. Thus it is important to consider the target interaction length, as well as the desire to reach people at home, when thinking about the time of the day to visit.

Bilingual outreach staff enhanced resident interactions and pilot design. The project's bilingual outreach staff was able to fully communicate with the target Hispanic Latino community, understand their needs and unique challenges, and explain recycling information in a more culturally relevant manner. Based on feedback from outreach staff, the project team was able to make small adjustments to the pilot approach to better serve the needs and questions of residents.

Informal recycling and disposal arrangements may affect the flow of materials at multifamily properties in this area. Over the course of the pilot, the project team learned that there is a fair amount of informal recycling and bulky item collection at some of the pilot properties. For example, a number of residents reported observing private (non-WM) trucks picking up furniture and other bulky items left next to outdoor containers, as well as going through recycling containers and removing items that may be valuable, such as cardboard and aluminum. It is unclear how much this activity affects the material flow measured as part of this project, but it is a factor that will be considered in the evaluation of pilot effects.

Recommendations for effective door-to-door outreach with Hispanic/Latino residents:

  • Open with a question. Outreach staff found that opening each resident interaction with a question allowed them to gauge the level of knowledge of their audience and thus better tailor their approach.

  • Approach residents with confidence. While it is necessary for outreach staff to read the audience and determine how much time they are willing to give, it is also important to feel confident that outreach is an important service. Door-to-door outreach is a substantial investment, and once the staff is there, it is good to make every effort possible to talk to the residents.

  • When creating translated/transcreated materials, have at least two translators review the material. This is helpful not only for catching errors but also to figure out subtle cultural and language nuances.

  • Incorporate clearly identifiable visible markers for similar materials in different languages. When delivering two different versions of the same material, have a quick and easy visual way to recognize each set.

__ Welcome Page Contact Us RSA Summaries
© 2014 Waste Management of Washington, Inc.