>>>Padilla Speer Beardsley - Public Relations
Hennepin County Solid Waste Education

"Hennepin County residents throw away enough garbage to fill the Metrodome every year. Recycle. It makes a difference."
10-second television ad developed by PSB

The Challenge

Following Minnesota mandates, Hennepin County was required to take responsibility for safely managing all solid waste generated within its borders. The county developed an integrated waste management program which would be environmentally responsible, but was under criticism for higher costs and for environmental concerns about waste incineration, a key element in the overall plan.

The Strategy

Padilla Speer Beardsley conducted the first opinion research on these topics for the county and developed key messages and strategies for a public education campaign. The popularity of recycling as one element of the comprehensive plan was emphasized to help balance the necessary, but politically unpopular, incineration element. The program was presented as an integrated plan in which no one solution could address the entire problem, but where the region's solid waste could be responsibly managed if all elements were implemented. PSB has planned and implemented the communications, advertising and related publicity program.

The Results

Within a year, 65 percent of county households were doing some recycling. Currently less than 10 percent of county solid waste goes to landfills and Hennepin County is acknowledged as one of the top three metro markets in the nation for recycling and solid waste education. The Hennepin County program won a national recycling education award when it was introduced in the fall of 1990. PSB has continued to work with the county on introduction of additional solid waste management programs including household hazardous waste collection, "button" battery collection and fluorescent tube collections to reduce mercury in the waste stream, yard waste composting and commercial recycling programs.