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Into the ReMix: the ReMix program brings private and public interests together to increase magazine collection rates.

"There's something you can do to help the environment and the town you live in--recycle your magazines and catalogs. Its not hard. Just include them in II your bin, bag or cart along with your other paper recycling. We'll take care II of the rest."

This message is the offspring of a collaborative public-private partnership titled ReMix (Recycling Magazines Is Excellent). Sponsored nationally by Time Inc., International Paper, Verso Paper and the National Recycling Coalition (NRC), ReMix is working to increase the rate of magazine and catalog recycling in its project areas.

TEAMWORK

"According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, about 2 million tons of magazines are produced each year in the United States, but only about 32 percent are recycled," says Kate Krebs, executive director of the National Recycling Coalition. "Our national research shows that Americans support recycling, but they are often uncertain about what can be recycled." Not too many years ago, the type of paper in magazines and catalogs was considered a contaminant in many recycling programs. Thus, educational programs taught consumers to keep these coated papers out of the recycling bin. Over time, recycling technologies have advanced, and now many recycling programs take magazines and catalogs.

"We knew the best way to create an effective national project was to bring together everyone with a stake in keeping magazines and catalogs out of the landfill," says Krebs. "That includes the paper manufacturer, the magazine publisher and the local recyclers. The NRC, as a national advocate for recycling, is a natural umbrella for a project like ReMix."

The private sector partners agreed and welcomed NRC's coordination. "As a committed steward of the environment, International Paper partnered with Time Inc. to research current trends in magazine recycling, and we discovered tremendous opportunity to divert used magazines and catalogs from landfills," says David Struhs, International Paper vice president of environmental affairs.

ReMix's cornerstone is innovative community outreach that encourages residents to recycle magazines and catalogs. The campaign centers on a full-page advertisement depicting magazine recycling via the familiar curbside collection programs that residents are already used to. The ads encourage them to place magazines and catalogs in their recycling bins. This full-page ad runs in local editions of popular magazines such as Sports Illustrated, Fortune and Time in locales where the ReMix campaign is currently underway. Developed by the national partners, the ad has reached an audience of more than 100 million with total ad value exceeding $4 million.

"While we, as national partners, provide program direction, it is the local governments and private recycling companies in each ReMix city or county that make things happen on the ground," says Lyle Fellows, Verso Paper senior vice president of manufacturing. "By teaming up with local recycling coordinators and processors, we are able to leverage local resources and combine them with our national campaign materials to promote the ReMix message." Recycling coordinators in each ReMix city or county help drive the ReMix campaign with local advertising and promotion. Participating material recovery facilities (MRFs) conduct periodic sorts of magazines and catalogs following a specific protocol to ensure a valid sampling. These sorts provide a metric for measuring the success of the campaign.

SPREADING THE WORD

The ReMix campaign kicked off with two pilot projects, the first in Boston on March 22, 2004, followed shortly thereafter in Prince George's County, Md., on April 22, 2004. In addition to seeing the ReMix ad running in multiple magazines, consumers also received outreach materials from the local partners, including magazine recycling information that was stamped on 37,000 Prince George's County employee pay stubs and ReMix magnets sent to 250,000 Boston households. The ReMix campaign ran for 26 months in Boston, concluding in May 2006, and resulted in increased magazine and catalog recycling of 17 percent from the baseline measure taken in early 2004. Prince George County will complete its campaign later this year. As of September 2006, magazine and catalog recycling in Prince George's County is up 11 percent.

With the two successful pilot projects well underway, ReMix expanded next to Milwaukee in spring 2005. Teaming up with representatives from the Wisconsin Be SMART Coalition and local government, ReMix launched in Milwaukee and surrounding localities on April 21. The Milwaukee ReMix campaign offered the national partners the opportunity to apply what was learned in Boston and Prince George's County.

Milwaukee's recycling infrastructure made it impossible for ReMix to monitor magazine and catalog recycling across the intended local campaign area with just one MRF, so, three facilities were contacted and asked to participate.

The ReMix team has expanded the types of outreach methods used during the Milwaukee campaign. Time Warner Cable has run more than 1,000 ReMix advertisements in the greater Milwaukee area. Through its relationship with Be SMART, ReMix linked up with the MARS (Milwaukee Area Radio Stations) network and ran a 30-second radio advertisement more than 300 times over 19 local stations. For the annual "Green Pages" edition of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the national partners developed a new ad featuring the 10 top things to do with a previously read magazine. The list ranged from a makeshift umbrella to a baseball bat to, of course, recycling it. In addition, the local partners reached out to Milwaukee residents through several mailers and other local advertisements, including a special section on Be SMART's expansive Web site, www.besmart.org.

While not enough data has been collected yet in Milwaukee to accurately depict how the national advertisement and local outreach projects will affect recycling rates, preliminary data shows an increase in magazine and catalog recycling rates.

GOING WEST

As the ReMix campaign was growing in Milwaukee, the national partners began searching for a fourth city to participate in the campaign, with Portland, Ore., rising to the top of the list. Working closely with the Office of Sustainable Development (OSD), ReMix launched in Portland on Earth Day, April 22, 2006. The chosen platform for the kickoff event was the city's annual BEST (Businesses for an Environmentally Sustainable Tomorrow) Awards, held at a breakfast banquet with more than 400 local and regional business leaders in attendance.

ReMix Portland is off to a strong start. All residents of the city recently received a copy of the "Portland Curbsider," the annual community recycling publication. The "Curbsider" highlighted OSD's self-proclaimed challenge to completely eliminate magazines and catalogs from the Portland area landfill by asking each resident to each recycle four more magazines or catalogs per month. In addition to this call-to-action, Portland residents have seen several other ReMix advertisements, including a steady stream of national magazine ad placements.

The ReMix national partners are now discussing where the campaign will expand next. With measured success in Boston and Prince George's County and positive signs from Milwaukee and Portland, the ReMix campaign is poised to expand across the country. "The ReMix initiative ties into the primary goals of sustainable development--economic and environmental sustainability and social responsibility," says David Refkin, director of sustainable development at Time Inc. "Participating communities are saving money, and magazines and catalogs are being diverted from landfills and recycled into new paper products."

More information about the ReMix campaign is available at the National Recycling Coalitions Web site at www. nrc-recycle.org.

The author is the ReMix project coordinator and can be contacted at jimmyo@nrcrecycle.org.
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Author:O'Connor, Jimmy
Publication:Recycling Today
Date:Dec 1, 2006
Words:1219
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