2015 Summary


Usability Study
Each year, Waste Management distributes a Residential Recycling Guide to all WUTC customers in King and Snohomish counties; the guide is tailored to each county. Although there is high consumer awareness around recycling and curbside service is available to most residents in the Puget Sound area, a large percentage of the waste stream continues to be comprised of easily recycled materials.

In 2015, Waste Management conducted a usability study to evaluate its current guidelines and/or other materials in need of updating. The goal of the research was to further improve and coordinate educational and instructional messages. The study’s results will be used to update the guide and/or other materials.

In-person, in-depth usability interviews were conducted with 26 Waste Management customers. The customers were asked to provide feedback on the current guide and make suggestions for improvement; they were given the opportunity to view alternate guide formats that may be effective.

Key takeaways included:

  • Continue to provide the Residential Recycling Guide in a paper format.
  • Entice customers to read the guide by highlighting something new, even if it’s not really “brand new.”
  • Refer customers to the website for less frequently needed information.
  • Continue to use lots of colorful photographic images and place images next to the relevant text.
  • Better explain that customers need to ignore the recycling symbol stamped on plastic.

Recycling Pilot Plan
The 2013 Behavior Study found that 89 percent of the households surveyed had mixed paper in their garbage carts, the highest percentage of any recyclable material category, including plastics. Mixed paper is defined as office paper, paperboard (cracker boxes, mailing tubes, toilet rolls, etc.), junk mail, magazines and envelopes.

In 2015, a paper recycling pilot plan was developed for the Snohomish County WUTC areas to help inform the development and implementation of future behavior change campaigns under the RSA. This pilot plan centered on getting residents to recycle more paper, focusing on the types of paper that are most prevalent in the garbage but also the most valuable in today’s recycling markets. Recommended educational materials and tools in the pilot plan were tailored specifically to the types of recyclable paper that are found most often in the garbage.

Ultimately, in late 2015, Snohomish County elected not to implement the paper pilot, citing concerns about customer privacy and utilizing waste sorts as an evaluation tool. In 2016, Snohomish County recycling education efforts will focus on paper and plastic recycling education, as well as reducing recycling cart contamination.

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