This study examines how first-generation ethnic minorities respond to different types of recycling promotion and education campaigns (P&E) used by municipalities in Ontario, Canada. A total of eight focus group sessions were conducted over an eight-week period to gauge participant attitudes and responses towards print (newspaper and signs) and electronic (websites) P&E messaging. Participants were asked to comment on message “recognition”, “clarity”, “the ability to increase recycling awareness” and “the ability to affect changes in recycling behavior”. Results from the focus group sessions suggest that none of the P&E mediums tested were able to increase recycling awareness or change recycling behavior in any meaningful way. First-generation ethnic minorities struggle with recognizing the central theme and purpose of P&E advertisements. Respondents also found existing campaigns excessively complex and confusing, and were not familiar with many of the terms and symbols used in existing P&E messaging. Other findings suggest that ethnic minorities are skeptical and distrustful of the municipalities’ intentions with respect to what they do with the waste after it is collected. The findings from this study lead to the recommendation that municipalities rethink and redesign recycling promotion and education initiatives to better engage minority communities.
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