Know It Before You Throw It Recycling Education Campaign, Michigan
Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy
Education, Behavior Change
Getting Michigan’s recycling program back on track.
For years, Michigan was a leader in the national recycling movement, but by the early 2000s it had one of the lowest recycling rates in the U.S. – including among the lowest of all Great Lakes states.
To address this issue, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) sought an innovative public education campaign to improve both the quality and quantity of recycling throughout Michigan.
Support was not the problem.
People across Michigan saw the value of recycling. Research showed that Michiganders believed in and supported recycling but didn’t know how to do it properly. A comprehensive campaign was needed to introduce Michiganders to rules for the six recycling categories – metal, paper, cardboard, plastic, glass and “other.”
Say hello to the Recycling Raccoon Squad.
No one knows trash better than Michigan’s raccoons, and so a campaign concept built to break through the media clutter with humor and “animal magnetism” was launched.
Large billboards on highways helped build awareness and URL recall.
Smaller billboards on city corridors with longer read times were used to deliver key rules by recycling stream.
Rules for specific recycling streams were promoted in three-week intervals so as not to overwhelm recyclers and increase retention.
Bus cards increased visibility of the squad in Michigan’s urban centers, helping to deliver almost 78 million impressions for all outdoor tactics combined.
Cute, cuddly and clickable.
The squad proved to be a near perfect vehicle for delivering complex messages in a way that was attention-getting, relatable and memorable.
Digital ads featuring key rules by recycling stream were targeted to people living in areas with curbside recycling.
More than 315,000 people visited RecyclingRaccoons.org, where detailed and thorough information educating Michiganders about the rules of recycling was shared.
This is a concept with legs! Social media spurred impressive impressions and engagements.
Paid social posts led to content marketing articles boasting a 1.47% click-through rate.
Paid social generated a whopping 68,782 engagements.
The squad and Lansing television affiliate Fox47 created an interactive social media contest. Each raccoon performed a dance and viewers voted for their favorite on Twitter. This innovative partnership garnered more than 270,000 impressions and almost 100,000 engagements.
Talkin’ trash across Michigan.
The Recycling Raccoon Squad hits the road to educate all Michiganders. Press events were held around Michigan throughout the first six months of the campaign. The events led to 280 articles published and overall media coverage that would have cost more than $2.6 million to buy.
click-through rate than the industry benchmark.
social media video views and engagements per hour in the first six months of the campaign.
Named recycling campaign of the year
by industry publication Waste Dive.
“Our partnership with Güd Marketing on the Know It Before You Throw It education campaign – featuring the Recycling Raccoon Squad – continues to inform and inspire Michiganders of all ages about how to recycle better and more often. We have seen quantifiable results that show significant improvement in Michigan’s understanding of the importance of proper recycling. This collaboration has resulted in a powerful and effective environmental awareness initiative that will have a lasting impact for years to come.”
–Liz Browne, Director of EGLE’s Material Management Division