What is it?
The Business Litter Placard Program is a litter prevention outreach effort implemented by the North Broad Renaissance that engages businesses and holds them accountable for supporting community efforts to keep the corridor clean. Businesses are monitored by the NBR cleaning vendors and a monthly report is provided to the NBR. The organization uses that information to create an outreach strategy–with the use of volunteers and placards–that thanks businesses who are supportive and notify businesses that are not following appropriate litter laws. The program recognizes good behavior, promotes accountability, and educates business owners on waste protocols and regulations.
Why was the program implemented?
The program was implemented to reduce litter and engage businesses along the North Broad corridor in keeping clean storefronts. Some of the issues that led to the program being developed were:
- Consistent litter in certain locations
- Businesses not putting their trash out on trash day
- Illegal Dumping
Through the program, the North Broad Renaissance engages with businesses along the corridor on an ongoing basis, keeping them accountable and providing information about proper waste practices. The organization also shares the economic impact this
could have on their business.
How does it work?
The North Broad Renaissance periodically surveys litter conditions along the North Broad corridor, and the results of that survey identify which businesses are following Streets Department regulations and keeping clean storefronts and which are not. Several times a year, trained volunteers walk from business to business to hand out the placards and speak with business owners and employees about waste and litter. The businesses that are doing well receive placards that say,”Thank you for being a great partner!” The businesses that are not doing as well are added to a nuisance list and receive placards that say, “Notice to business and property owners: You’ve been reported.” Helpful reminders of the Streets Department’s trash and recycling set out regulations are listed on the back of this version of the handout. After the outreach, if a business still remains on the nuisance list, they receive a formal letter asking them to follow directions. By this time, they may have also been contacted by L&I.
Since the program was started two years ago, engagement of businesses along the North Broad corridor has greatly improved. The corridor has seen noticeable changes, has noticed a decrease in litter collection by 16% in one year, and improved the litter index. North Broad Renaissance has found that many of the businesses on the nuisance list did not follow the rules because no one was holding them accountable to do so. Once businesses realize that they–and their business–could be negatively impacted, they are educated on what the regulations are, and they start to follow them.
The North Broad Renaissance incorporated funding for the litter placard program and its overall clean and safe budget and ensured that creating a litter index and nuisance report was a part of the RFP for corridor cleaning services. Neighborhood-based organizations looking to develop a similar outreach program without corridor cleaning services might expect to spend around $2,500 on graphic design services and printing, and $1,000 per mile on volunteer stipends to conduct a litter scan and distribute the placards.
Lessons Learned and Tips
1) Utilizing Volunteers for Outreach: North Broad Renaissance provides a $50 stipend to volunteers who help with the outreach. Students are often willing to help, and this is also a great way to engage the community. Do a training for volunteers before each outreach push, and make sure they know the do’s and don’ts, why the outreach is important, how to respond to important questions, etc. The North Broad Renaissance does an outreach push about every other month, with longer breaks between outreach during colder months.
2) Designing the Placards: If funding allows, utilize a graphic design firm to design a visually appealing handout that is consistent with your branding. Through these outreach materials, you are building a relationship with businesses. This is a small investment that will have huge returns.
3) Outreach, Outreach, Outreach!: You can never do enough outreach. It is so important to get community input and buy-in and to listen to what community members want. Don’t take it personal, listen to their concerns and needs, and respond to them.
4) Collect Data: When you volunteers are out, ask them to bring back key information (i.e. stores that they visited, feedback, attitude of business owners, names and emails to help those businesses stay connected and involved).
Who to Get in Touch with to Develop a Similar Program
If you are interested in developing a similar program for your own neighborhood, please email email@example.com or call 267-318-7772 for more information.