GreenWaste & Zanker Recycling

A Brighter Shade of Green

GreenWaste, Zanker Recycling, and their four affiliated companies quickly grew into one of the most innovative solid waste recovery companies in the world. But their achievements were nearly invisible to their target audience.

The problem started with their identity. The company’s original logo featured an acronym, GW, which looked and sounded like every other garbage company in the market.

What’s more, their competitors were jumping on the environmental bandwagon and making baseless claims about being green, undermining GreenWaste’s true leadership position. The company needed to rebrand and develop a communications plan to differentiate themselves from all of the other garbage companies operating in their space and stake claim to their rightful place as the industry’s environmental leader.

In 2008 Orloff Marketing was retained by GreenWaste and Zanker Recycling to do just that.

We quickly realized that the GreenWaste brand was much greater than the sum of its parts. Our recommendation was to unite all affiliated companies under one brand umbrella that would be easily distinguished from the acronym-heavy identities of its competitors. Consolidation under one brand umbrella would allow GreenWaste to find efficiencies in their marketing budget, leverage the communications assets of all of their smaller companies to get broader visibility for the new identity, and quickly build awareness and equity in the new brand.

The competition created some challenges. GreenWaste was clearly the greenest and most innovative in their space, as measured by the number of their patented recycling processes and the tonnage of solid waste materials they diverted from landfills. But their competitors were making baseless claims about being just as green. Existing industry buzzwords had been co-opted by these lesser players, and as a result, the familiar terms had become devalued.

Our messaging had to be communicated differently. We couldn’t just look different. We had to sound different. We accomplished that by creating our own language, with terms like “Greenovation” that became a foundational element of our communications, and a term exclusive to Zanker Recycling.


We opted for a graphics-driven logo with the company name spelled out to stand out in a field of acronym-identified competitors. The tagline “a brighter shade of green” suggested that GreenWaste was smarter and more environmentally sound than other companies who claimed to be green. From there, we integrated all GreenWaste’s companies under the umbrella brand.

By faithfully executing a carefully developed brand identity, and leveraging marketing resources across all of the companies, we achieved a higher level of return on investment for GreenWaste’s marketing expenditures. Through faithful execution of the new brand, we built brand equity quickly. By repeating our message consistently and constantly — on trucks, garbage and recycling bins, signage, marketing materials, the website, etc. — the new brand became highly visible, and the message resonated with the audience.

The speed with which we built equity in the brand meant GreenWaste didn’t have to continually invest in promoting its new identity. The graphic element, color and type style of the identity package tied all of the companies together, allowing them to benefit from being associated with the larger GreenWaste brand. The cost of educating GreenWaste’s target audience on who they are and what they do was dramatically reduced, leaving more marketing dollars for promotion of specific revenue-generating products and services to an audience that feels it knows GreenWaste, likes GreenWaste, and is more inclined to do business with GreenWaste companies. That is a classic example of brand equity.


After rebranding the company, we were charged with creating a website that would unite Zanker Recycling and all the affiliated companies under the GreenWaste brand umbrella.

We identified specific goals for the site:

  • Faithfully apply the brand standards to the site.
  • Cite specific facts that support Zanker Recycling’s leadership position in the solid waste recovery industry.
  • Spotlight specific activities of the GreenWaste companies, and show how they work together to provide a zero-waste approach to solid waste recovery. For example, Zanker Recycling diverts from landfill items like construction, demolition and landscape debris, and bulky household items like couches and refrigerators, then turns those solid waste assets into construction and landscape products sold through Zanker Landscape Materials.
  • Set up an e-commerce function so customers can purchase landscape materials online and arrange for delivery of those materials.
  • Be search engine optimized to be found by the target audiences.

We also identified the following target audiences:

  • Commercial building, demolition, and landscaping contractors
  • Waste haulers (e.g., 1-800-GOT-JUNK)
  • Residents who need to dispose of bulky items
  • Consumers looking for landscaping materials
  • Local, regional, and state elected officials charged with overseeing solid waste management in their communities
  • Local, regional, and national trade industry influencers and general news media reporters

Social Media Marketing

We supported branding and sales effort on social media, using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn to reach our target audiences through organic and paid campaigns. The messaging ranged from brand-building posts to sales promotions, acknowledgment of achievements by the company and its customers, and recycling tips for the building trades and homeowners.


Our video work for Zanker allowed us to be concise and capture viewers’ interest in the first few seconds. By showing as well as telling, we could condense information down into easily digestible snippets of content that were long enough to maintain viewers’ attention but short enough to leave them wanting more. Video also allowed for visually interesting, creative approaches to content, was highly share-able, and easy to search engine optimize.

Zanker Recycling’s audience responded well to video messaging. We’ve produced more than 30 videos for Zanker on a variety of topics, including the processes they use to recycle and reuse solid waste materials such as construction, demolition, and landscape debris.

To increase the share-abilty of these videos, we sometimes took an out-of-the-box approach to content. An example was establishing Gil the Landfill Seagull as a spokesperson for Zanker, and securing the services of nationally renowned comedian Steve Mazan to portray him as a hangry bird who could find nothing to eat at the landfill, because Zanker had repurposed all the waste.


Media Relations

Over the past 30+ years, we’ve had frequent interactions with members of the local news media. With those relationships in place, we can respond quickly to opportunities to showcase our clients on television and in print. We’ve done that with Zanker, inserting them into stories about how the growth of waste recycling in Silicon Valley is creating jobs, or how proper handling of solid waste materials can be diverted from the landfill and put to good use.

We also handle crisis communications and design crisis communications protocols for our clients. We’ve provided Zanker and many other clients with the tools to manage a communications in a crisis, and we are on call should an emergency arise.

Graphic Design

We’ve handled design projects for Zanker that run the gamut of marketing communications, including:

  • Out of home: roadside signage and delivery trucks
  • Tradeshow displays and other collateral
  • Social Media Marketing posts
  • PowerPoint presentations
  • Apparel and other items for special events
  • Customer gifts

Account Management

Faithful execution drives brand equity and cost efficiency. Our account management services are designed to track efficacy and monitor faithful execution of the brand. We provide:

  • Detailed marketing reports tracking the performance of social media marketing activities, search engine optimization rankings, emerging best practices in online marketing and status report on open assignments.
  • Monthly team meetings with the client to monitor progress, discuss what the competition is doing, plan marketing activities and budgets.
  • Brand policing — verifying that the brand standards are met in all company communications, flagging areas for improvement
  • Cloud-based platforms like Basecamp and Tick Time Tracking for accurate, verifiable billing statements



“Following their brand audit of GreenWaste and Zanker Recycling in 2008, our executive team accepted Orloff Marketing’s recommendation to unite all of our subsidiaries under one brand and tagline: A Brighter Shade of Green. Today, we’re one of the nation’s leading solid waste management companies with a growing customer base and expert standing in the community.”

Michael Gross
Director of Sustainability, Zanker Recycling


Related Environmental Marketing Experience

Every day is Earth Day at Orloff Marketing. Since 1992, we’ve guided the brands of several solid waste management companies and government organizations focused on environmental issues.

Browning Ferris (1992 to 1993)

We produced an environmental news minute called Earth Journal(initially underwritten Browning Ferris and subsequently by the City of San Jose and USA Waste) that ran during evening news casts on KNTV, Channel 11 for nearly two years and was recognized for excellence with a national “Telly” award.  Subjects on Earth Journal included residential and commercial recycling tips, wildlife habitat, and water conservation.

City of San Jose, Environmental Services Department (1992 – 2010)

We were retained by the City of San Jose’s Environmental Services Department to assist the City in reaching its 50% reduction in landfill materials goal by end of year 2000. The multi-media campaign focused on residential and commercial recycling to reach the diversion rate.

Campaigns targeted to residential and commercial customers began in 1999 and ran through June 2000. The “100% San Jose! Recycle where you work, live and play” campaign was targeted at residents and businesses throughout the city.

Research provided by the client indicated that the female dictated recycling habits in the household, but she was often unsure about what could, and should, be recycled. The creative campaign addressed this issue, and the media buy was targeted to San Jose female residents. Newspaper utilized a combination of stand-by and pick-up rates, effectively reducing the contract rate by 30%. San Jose residents were also reached with weekly neighborhood newspapers. Television combined local news shows with prime-time rotation on the ABC affiliate. Ads ran on Lifetime, A&E, Home & Garden, Family Channel, and USA. On-screen advertising at local movie theaters proved very effective in reaching families and residents throughout San Jose.

Recognizing the ethnicity of the market, Hispanic radio advertising, and Hispanic and Vietnamese print ads were also developed. Commercial businesses were targeted through business publications such as the San Jose/Silicon Valley/Business Journal and San Jose Chamber of Commerce Advocate, vertical publications such as Building Owners and Managers Association newsletters and direct mailers.

In addition, we leveraged many news media opportunities. The talent for the television spots, Roberta Gonzales (meteorologist with KPIX-TV) also included live interviews with City of San Jose Environmental Services Department spokespersons, during some of her broadcasted weather segments. Bonus weather and traffic sponsorships on radio joined forces with the halo sign at the San Jose Arena – even the local Presbyterian church carried the recycling message! All told, local businesses and organizations donated almost $70,000 in time and services to the “100% San Jose” campaign. 

GreenTeam of San Jose (1995 – 1998)

As part of the Recycle Plus! campaign, Orloff Marketing assisted GreenTeam in their advertising and community outreach efforts to the multi-family markets of San Jose.  This included producing several direct mail pieces to the residents of multi-family dwellings and property managers of those complexes.  We also developed an internal campaign designed to encourage safety in the workplace.

Santa Clara Valley Water District (1999 – 2002)

The power crisis in California in 2001 directly ties to water usage and conservation. In fact, pumping water is the single most significant use of power in California. Orloff Marketing was retained by the Santa Clara Valley Water District in 2oo1 to educate residents and businesses on the connection between conserving water and conserving electricity.

Trilingual focus groups were conducted to determine resident’s attitudes and perceptions on water and electricity conservation. In addition, the slogan, “Tales from the Grid” was tested on all participants.Ads for radio, television, and newspaper were created in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese. Value-added promotions were developed with all broadcast media. Links between station web sites and the web site for the Water District were promoted on air.

In addition to the paid advertising schedule, personal appearances on community service shows were arranged on several television stations. Our media director, with many years of consumer media negotiating experience, placed transit ads starting mid-month, in most cases adding two weeks to the paid schedule. In fact, the transit advertising is still on many county buses, two and a half months after the paid schedule ended.

Santa Clara Valley Water District reported increased hits to their web site, as consumers and businesses alike looked for suggestions on conserving water to conserve power.

South Bay Water Recycling (1998 – 2002)

Orloff Marketing was brought in to develop collateral materials and assist South Bay Water Recycling with community outreach and relations. Radio commercials, print advertisements, flyers and newsletters were developed and produced communicating the purpose and benefits of recycled water. Additionally, press releases and news articles were developed to provide updates on the progress of the project construction.

Waste Management (1995 – 2002)

Orloff Marketing was retained to augment Waste Management’s communications deliverables under its contract with the City of San Jose by providing additional advertising and public relations.  Specifically, we coordinated a full-fledged crisis communications plan, designed a multi-year partnership with the San Jose Sharks and their mascot S.J. Sharkie for outreach purposes into the schools and a web site incorporating recycling messages, customers service support and S.J. Sharkie.

We also provided direct sales support, using its network and relationships, which led to several lucrative transactions including Westfield Valley Fair, the 400,000 square foot Horizon Center office complex in downtown San Jose and San Jose Arena.

Our role was further expanded to assist in Bay Area-wide communications of Waste Management’s other divisions and in preparing Waste Management’s response to the City of San Jose’s curbside recycling Request for Proposal in 2000 and other jurisdictions.

Integrated Branding Across All Media

From websites to brochures social media posts and promotional items, Orloff Marketing provides a full range of marketing collateral.

Here's another Zanker Recycling video we are particularly proud of as well as a few environmental marketing-related work samples from the archives.

A fun video we produced for Zanker Recyling that was used to honor them as they received the 2020 CRRA Outstanding Construction & Demolition Award. Visit more video samples here.

Zanker Earthquake
Zanker Wood Waste

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