Background & Objective
The UK dumps more household waste into landfill than any other EU state, despite EU targets to reduce municipal waste sent to landfill by 50% by 2013. With landfill tax increasing by £8 per tonne a year and landfill space at a premium, it is imperative that consumers – unaware of the cost to the taxpayer and the environment of sending rubbish to landfill – increase their recycling efforts.
RecycleBank is a US company founded with the belief that environmental solutions create economic opportunities. RecycleBank entered the UK market in 2009 and partnered with the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM) to introduce a programme that would motivate residents to recycle.The company operates a scheme that motivates people to become greener residents and smarter consumers by rewarding them for recycling at home. RecycleBank does this by quickly and easily measuring the amount each home recycles and then converting that activity into RecycleBank Points, which can be used at local and national reward partners including M&S, Coca-Cola, local shops, restaurants, leisure facilities, or donated to local schools.
This in itself is a major step change in the approach to waste management and resource recovery. Until this point UK policy had created a framework where penalty schemes were still widely under consideration whereas now, with the advent of RecycleBank, the emphasis is very much on recycling incentives.
RecycleBank embarked upon an intensive media relations campaign to launch the scheme and educate residents about the importance of recycling.
In the States, RecycleBank lives by the mantra, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. But in the UK, it’s still early days, and they needed a step by step approach to get households to think before they throw. Making it easy and rewarding to recycle are the two biggest carrots that have kick-started RecycleBank’s process. Once into the habit of recycling, it will become much easier to take households to the next step, which is to cut back on consumption and start reusing materials.By the end of 2010, RecycleBank forecasts to have over 200k members.
The PR campaign focussed on providing a genuine green benefit, letting the programme speak for itself. Monetary figures used were underplayed and based on averages instead of aiming for an ambitious headline statistics. Celebrity endorsements were shunned in favour of, simply the words of residents, reward partners and local authorities using the scheme on a daily basis. RecycleBank has proven that by incentivising households, we can change behavioural habits, bringing economic benefits to the community, businesses and the environment. No other recycling scheme has received such widespread support, high levels of customer advocacy and publicity in a short space of time.
Judges thought that this campaign demonstrated the widest media coverage, not only through PR activities but also through word of mouth publicity. The campaign’s strategy to use incentives and rewards demonstrated positive motivation, thus encouraging people to recycle more.