The American Plastics Council, a California government agency and a local grocery chain are spending nearly $200,000 for a campaign to boost recycling in Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay area. The campaign is designed to bolster APC's contention that targeted education campaigns can boost collection from existing curbside and drop-off recycling programs, as an alternative to container-deposit legislation. It mirrors a smaller version of the program that APC said boosted collection of PET and high density polyethylene bottles in Sacramento in 1998 and 1999.
The effort kicks off May 17, and will include in-store advertising at 196 Albertson's Inc. grocery stores throughout northern California and an eight-week radio and television campaign of both paid and public service advertisements.
"We think it is helpful to reinforce the message that there are a lot of plastic containers that people may overlook when they take plastic out to the street," said Tim Shestek, manager of state and local public affairs with APC's Sacramento office.
Albertson's is using floor, sign and shelf advertising in dairy, detergent and other grocery aisles to remind consumers that they can recycle the plastic bottles found there. The campaign slogan will be "Do Your Part ... Please Recycle Plastic Bottles."
The Sacramento- only effort in the past did increase the plastic bottles collected from curbside and drop-off sites, APC said.
Sacramento County saw PET collection rise 28.1 percent and HDPE 27.1 percent in the three-month period of the 1999 campaign vs. 1998. The city of Sacramento saw HDPE collection rise 21.3 percent, APC said.
Arlington, Va.-based APC is contributing $125,000 to the campaign; the California Integrated Waste Management Board is chipping in $30,000. Other partners include the Grocery Manufacturers of America, the Dairy Institute of California and the California Beer and Beverage Distributors.
Shestek said APC is not sure if it will wage the campaign every year, and said it could be difficult to broaden it. "We'd love to do this statewide, but the cost of buying the radio time is just prohibitive," he said.
He also said Albertson's has been generous: "The biggest hurdle for us was to find a retail partner who would be willing to donate the valuable floor space and shelf space, which goes for a pretty penny."
California's state government has proved politically challenging for the industry lately. It expanded its bottle bill last year, and continues to see efforts to expand recycled-content laws for plastic containers. Shestek rejected suggestions that APC is reacting to that, noting it has been working on the campaign for several years.
"There's been some comments about this is a PR reaction by industry," he said. "Clearly that is not the case. ... I hope people look at this as a serious effort, not a knee-jerk reaction by industry."