• Belfast City Council image
  • Belfast City Council image

Changing behaviour

Getting people to embrace the whole concept of why we all need to play our part in helping to save the environment by recycling paper, plastic and food in our homes is no easy task. And when it comes to glass, getting people to go one step further and take it to a bottle bank is even harder. Today, a lot of people recycle paper, cardboard and plastic in their homes. But beyond that, it stops.

Belfast City Council needed to reduce the amount of tonnage going to landfill every year and to do this, we needed to reduce the amount of food and glass ending up there, two of the heaviest products. RLA were enlisted with the task of shifting consumer behaviour and getting them to take their recycling to the next level.

Belfast City Council image

Your city needs you

In terms of our glass recycling campaign, we needed to find a way that made it simple and convenient for people to take glass to a bottle bank. Instead of doing a traditional outdoor campaign, we wanted to target people exactly at the place where they buy glass and can also recycle it: at the Supermarket.

So we set up meetings with Tesco, Sainsburys and Asda and got them to come onboard and do their bit for the environment by giving us free advertising space to promote the glass recycling message in-store and around their car parks.

This enabled us to utilise our budget very cost effectively and allowed us to pump more money into traditional paid-for media. We also held roadshows in partner retail spaces which we used to distribute bags to hold the glass bottles. The overall look and feel of the campaign was designed to be very striking and stand-out. To achieve this, we used a skit on the old Kitchner posters to call people into taking action.

Out of 63% of people who didn’t recycle glass prior to the campaign, 61% said it would encourage them to change their behaviour. In addition, there was a 33% increase in glass recycling in Belfast during the promotional period. Job well done!

Belfast City Council image

What’s in it for me?

In terms of getting people to recycle their food, this proved to be less problematic than getting them to recycle glass, as they could do it in their own home. However, what we learned from focus groups carried out prior to developing our concept was that people are either green or they’re not.

So there was no point going out with a message preaching to people about being environmentally friendly. Instead, we tapped into the ‘What’s in for Me?’ rule of thinking and delivered a strong message about the amount of money being wasted on food by the average family every year. The campaign was rolled out via above-the-line advertising and in supermarkets on trolleys and shopper lites.

Both these campaigns were extremely successful in reducing tonnage to landfill and helped the city council deliver an accountable return on their investment.

Every year 18 million tonnes of waste is land filled in UK sites
Changing a cities behaviour with glass recycling |RLA