Project Description

Abitibi-Consolidated: Recycling Partnership Launch/Press Conference

abitibiThe City of Houston, Texas had fallen behind its peers with a recycling rate far below that of other comparably sized cities.

To affect positive change, public attitudes toward recycling had to be changed. An awareness campaign was needed to influence recycling habits and community “buy-in.”

At the center of the support for a recycling increase in the Greater Houston region was Abitibi-Consolidated, one of the largest recyclers of newspapers and magazines in North America. In addition to being a strong advocate of recycling and supporter of environmental stewardship, Abitibi-Consolidated desired to further a relationship it began with the City of Houston in 1992.

Abitibi-Consolidated is the preeminent recycler of paper and other recyclable materials in the Houston market. Houston also serves as the home of the company’s North American Recycling Division headquarters.

For nearly two decades Abitibi-Consolidated has been a recycling partner with the City of Houston. The company maintains an exclusive agreement with the City of Houston to sort, process, recycle and market materials collected from residents via the City’s curbside recycling program.

To achieve its goals, Abitibi-Consolidated initiated a strategy to increase public awareness regarding the benefits of recycling, positively affect the attitudes of Houstonians and their recycling habits, as well as increase the company’s presence in the market place.

Incorporating the participation of both the City of Houston and H-E-B Grocery Stores, 84 multi-material recycling containers would be placed at 28 H-E-B store locations throughout the Greater Houston region. The Abitibi-Consolidated containers would collect paper, plastics, aluminum and metals. To make recycling easier, the City of Houston created a user-friendly, online map, showing the nearest H-E-B recycling sites.

As a further show of its goodwill and commitment to the City of Houston, Abitibi-Consolidated would collect and weigh the recycled materials and directly pay the local affiliates of Keep Texas Beautiful, based on the company’s per weight pay scale. The proceeds would support local recycling initiatives such as educational programs and materials for children, community clean-ups and landscaping efforts.

To announce the launch of the initiative and signify the importance of the public/private partnership formed with the City of Houston and H-E-B Grocery Stores, Abitibi-Consolidated hosted a press conference/ launch event at one of the H-E-B store locations which doubled as a recycling drop-off site.

Marx Layne & Company was charged with event preparation and the engagement of a full-scale media campaign to publicize the recycling program and the preceding press conference.

Developing our efforts around the high profile press conference/ launch event, our team of PR professionals initiated a comprehensive media blitz, which incorporated securing pre-event, day-of and post media coverage. Given the scope of the program, its benefit to the community and its high “newsworthy” potential, the team formulated media-specific and carefully crafted news pitches engaging all relevant media outlets including: daily print publications, community newspapers, business publications, environmental/recycling trade publications, grocery trade publications, community-based Web sites, radio, TV, local cable access programs and national news outlets.

In addition to coordinating all media outreach on behalf of four participating organizations, Marx Layne & Company served as the hub for the event coordination and an available contact for all the partnership organizations. Additionally, our responsibilities included drafting key messages, Q&As, and talking points for Abitibi-Consolidated’s leadership. We also drafted and compiled the press kit materials, including the media alert, launch press release, organization fact sheets and backgrounders.

While pre-event media coverage was limited to business publications and the environment trade publications (Houston Business Journal, Recycling Today, Waste News, et al.), day-of and post event coverage was extensive. The press conference was covered by a number of local media outlets including: Metro Networks news radio (broadcast on up to 22 stations), KUHF-FM (NPR), KHOU-TV, Univision, Telemundo and Houston Television (HTV).

Post event coverage continued to manifest for several weeks and included interview opportunities and follow up with community newspapers. Some of the outlets covering the launch of the recycling partnership following the press conference included: Waste Age magazine, 90.9 KTSU-FM,, The Facts Newspaper (Brazosport, TX), Progressive Grocer Magazine and a number of Houston specific local/community Web sites.

In conclusion, Abitibi-Consolidated was successful in increasing awareness regarding viable recycling options located throughout Houston communities. Additionally, communities desiring to participate in the program and have recycling drop-off containers added to their neighborhood H-E-B stores voiced interest.