Training is Key to Successful Organics and Recycling Programs

11.03.2011

ESA is creating multilingual training videos to help ensure the continued participation and success of commercial organics and recycling programs.

In the past several years, cities and counties throughout California have devoted significant time, effort, and money to grow their commercial food scrap collection programs. In the San Francisco Bay Area alone, there are thousands of businesses participating in these programs. ESA is proud to have worked with many of these jurisdictions to provide organics and recycling program planning, promotion, and training including multi-lingual educational programs, kitchen set-up and ongoing monitoring.

By nature, commercial food scrap programs require diligent maintenance and follow-up training to be effective and sustainable. Programs may be at risk or in need of additional follow-up training when significant amounts of contamination are seen in food scrap bins, as well as food and recyclables in trash bins.

In our organics diversion and recycling work, we’ve noticed an increased success rate when program participants clearly understand WHY they’re being asked to recycle. When the value of recycling is understood, staff tends to take more responsibility for doing things correctly, thereby making the program productive. This understanding forms the basis of our participant education and training programs.

Cities and counties that have initiated commercial organics and recycling programs often struggle to find the funding to provide follow-up trainings to ensure the long-term success of their programs. Often, the challenge is finding the staff and technical expertise required to support food scrap program participants, or the funding to contract a specialist to do program monitoring and follow-up trainings.

The fact that many jurisdictions cannot afford qualified staff to provide commercial organics and recycling program maintenance demonstrates the need for a more cost-effective alternative. ESA is in the process of creating follow-up training videos in English, Spanish and Chinese that will help to fill this need and ensure the continued participation and success of commercial organics and recycling programs.

While video is not an appropriate substitute for initial program participant in-person, on-location training, it is a suitable tool for follow-ups, refreshers, or re-training and has several key advantages:

  • A training video offers flexibility so business managers that can show the video whenever it is most convenient, without interrupting the workday.
  • A video can easily be shown individually or to an entire staff audience.
  • A video provides a baseline of understanding and educates employees about what happens to separated materials after they are put in the appropriate waste containers and why food scrap recycling (and recycling in general) is important.

ESA’s first-of-its-kind training video is being created in a generic, non-jurisdiction-specific fashion to meet the needs of various jurisdictions throughout the Bay Area and beyond. This project is a collaborative effort between ESA, the Altamont Education Advisory Board and StopWaste.org.

This ESA training video for businesses will provide our clients with a way to reinforce correct behaviors and clarify the importance of good recycling habits, conveniently and cost-effectively. It will also demonstrate to cities and counties that it is possible for a commercial organics and recycling program to persist over the long-term, even in uncertain economic times.

For more information about ESA's Renewable Resources Team or to receive notification of the completion of our training video, contact Jeff Caton.