Careless kerbside recycling behaviour was costing Rochdale Borough Council taxpayers an extra £70,000 annually to deal with contaminated recycling loads. The Council’s campaign partner Recycle for Greater Manchester asked for our help to understand residents’ barriers and motivations, and create a behaviour change intervention that would persuade them to sort their recycling correctly, thereby helping to redirect that wasted money into other frontline council services.
We created the insight-led Right Stuff, Right Bin campaign, which used a simple, directional brand and novel engagement techniques to identify, reinforce and reward good recycling behaviours. Green ‘thank you’ tags were left on bins with correctly sorted recycling, while bins containing the wrong items received a red tag, with information on how to do better, and a warning that repeat offences would result in bins not being collected. This very public engagement was also supported by door-knocking and local events.
The six-week pilot campaign was extremely effective, with recycling contamination rates falling by 61%, saving £22,000 in waste disposal costs from just 1,600 households. Furthermore, overall recycling rates in the borough rocketed by nearly 50%. These impressive behaviour-led impacts were recognised and rewarded: the Right Stuff, Right Bin campaign won a prestigious National Recycling Award for innovation, and was rolled out across Greater Manchester and other UK boroughs.