SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — There is a new strategy to combat illegal dumping in San Jose.
Piles of trash, an old TV, an abandoned sofa and mattresses, its just part of the stuff that is creating an eyesore on Carpentier Way in San Jose. This is a recurring problem in the neighborhood.
San Jose Environmental Services Ed Ramirez said this kind of dumping is typical.
“We’ve identified it as a hotspot, one of about 100 hotspots in San Jose,” Ramirez said.
But what the dumpers may not know is that San Jose picks up large items such as these for free. All you have to do is call.
To get more people to call, San Jose partnered with experts on human behavior.
Jennie Loft with San Jose’s Environmental Services Department says a UK-based behavioral insights team has been working with cities to help increase public engagement. The team helped craft a flier that people wouldn’t throw away.
It says “you’ve been selected to receive a free large item removal.”
Compared to another flier – that highlighted the cost of illegal dumping – this one worked like magic.
Loft said, “We saw an increase derived from that message of about 150 percent over the regular message that we were putting out.”
We hit the streets with the two fliers and asked people why the behavioral specialist’s message was so effective.
San Jose resident Albert Araujo said,”It sounds like I won something, I just got something free.” San Jose resident Bernadette Vercher said, “Just the words ‘you’ve been selected’ is more alluring to me…It makes me feel special.”
It’s something marketing experts know, but is seldom used in government.
The large item trash pickup is only two months old, but already calls have increased to about 30 a day.
And San Jose hopes it’s only a matter of time before the tables are turned and more people call for the free pickup than dump on city streets.
Illegal dumping in San Jose can result in fines up to $10,000.