- The existing culture and infrastructure related to recycling in a state or regions can inform the design, implementation and emphasis placed on an education and outreach campaign. In Oregon an existing strong culture of recycling coupled with existing infrastructure was helpful to the program.
- Understanding and honing the effectiveness of various messages, materials, communications tools and strategies of education and outreach for various target audiences (consumers by age and geography, retailers, producers, recyclers, etc.) is key to creating information to inform future planning and systematic improvement of the Oregon program and subsequent similar programs. During the first year of the program, the consumer surveys were not explicitly designed to achieve these purposes; however, the second survey is more relevant than the first and begins to set baselines that could be tested for change given follow up of the same or similar survey.
- In the August 2010 survey of homeowners, 10% indicated they would put the leftover paint in the garbage, but in the July 2011 survey of those that had painted recently, no respondents indicated they had disposed of the leftover paint in the garbage. Though it is possible that the program contributed to this outcome, it is not possible to attribute this change to the program because, for instance, there may be a lag time between recent painting projects and time of disposal not accounted for in the survey. A consumer’s lack of site awareness does not automatically translate to not recycling paint. Consumers with leftover paint may attempt to locate a site to drop off paint when the need arises.
- The education and outreach campaign used a broad approach to spreading its messages and did not strategically aim its messages at specific target audiences (variety of consumers like who has the most paint, contractors, retailers, etc.) with specific means of communication (TV, website, social media, radio, etc.). Consumers of paint can be segmented into various groups (new versus long-time homeowners, homeowners versus contractors, age and other demographics). The most effective ways of reaching each group may differ. For future outreach consider determining which groups are the largest purchasers of paint or who has the most leftover paint and target messages with appropriate means of communication at those groups.
- Paint recycling programs should prioritize the goals of outreach products. For instance, is the goal of a particular message or product to increase consumer awareness of the program or increase the number of consumers returning paint? These two goals may be related or mutually exclusive.
- A balanced approach to setting and prioritizing education and outreach is key and requires ongoing measurement and evaluation of the efficacy of the chosen approach. Too much focus on getting consumers to reduce the amount of paint purchased may lead to consumers with leftover paint who do not know what to do with it, while focusing too heavily on collections may cause consumers to not worry about the amount purchased since the drop-off locations provide an outlet for their unused paint (e.g., “whatever I don’t use, I’ll just drop off”). Measuring the effectiveness of education and outreach materials and strategies on consumer behaviors in the context of the paint management system can provide the information necessary to maintain balanced progress toward program goals.