Public Awareness

Public awareness is the second component of a successful used oil collection program. Do-it-yourselfers (DIY) will not recycle unless they know where the collection locations are and have been persuaded recycling is the right thing to do. The following questions will help you determine whether your local program is providing this information and education.

  1. Who are the DIYers?
  2. Is publicity and education (P&E) targeted to likely DIYers?
  3. Does the P&E motivate DIYers to recycle?
  4. Which P&E outreach is most cost-effective?

Who are the DIYers?

DIYers are primarily male (87 percent of them), predominantly between 25 to 44 years old, and tend to earn average to less than average incomes. For an excellent summary on DIYers, see the San Francisco State University report Outreach Research–Survey and Focus Groups: DIYers and Used Oil Disposal, Initial Results and Recommendations (January 2002, 62 pp), posted on the CalRecycle website.

Is publicity and education (P&E) targeted to likely DIYers?

Keeping in mind the average DIYer is male, younger, and earns average to less than average income will help focus P&E efforts. Although ethnicity is not strongly correlated to being a DIYer, if your community has a significant number of people who speak languages other than English, it makes sense to provide outreach in the languages used in your community.

Preliminary studies indicate that traditional print and electronic media may not be the most effective means of behavior change (such as recycling behaviors). A face-to-face approach as employed by community-based social marketing may be an effective means of increasing recycling. For more information about community-based social marketing, see (the site requires free registration).

Does the P&E motivate DIYers to recycle?

Professional marketing firms are paid vast sums of money to answer similar questions, in effect, to determine “How effective is the outreach?” Motivating the community to recycle is essentially a behavior change issue.

Although it has been very difficult to link any given outreach effort with immediately measurable results, several programs have indicated that outreach that makes a personal or emotional connection with the DIYer can be effective. For example, something as simple as completing a “pledge card” has been shown to change behavior. Additionally, messages that appeal to saving children from toxic waste or contaminated drinking water can create an emotional link with the recipient and can be more effective than messages that appeal to saving the environment.

Which P&E outreach is most cost-effective?

Again, this question is very difficult to answer, although smaller grantees may consider partnering with neighboring jurisdictions to form regional outreach campaigns. Consider also that several programs surveyed how DIYers became aware of where to recycle their used motor oil. The most common response was “from the used oil recycling sign on the collection center.” Signs are provided free to the collection centers, and verifying that the signs are still in place can be done at the time of the regular site visits to the centers.

Next Section: Budget Considerations

For more information contact: Certified Collection Center, or Household Hazardous Waste,