Green Industries SA’s latest education program seeks to heighten the state’s understanding of waste separation with a multi-pronged digital campaign.
Taking a modern approach to waste education is now more important than ever, with shifting international export markets placing greater significance on reducing contamination.
In the wake of these changes, the South Australian Government created a support package for local government and the recycling industry.
Vaughan Levitzke, Green Industries SA Chief Executive, says an educational kerbside separation campaign was highlighted as part of the package.
“We formed two groups under the package taskforce: one for procurement and one for education,” Vaughan says.
“The education group comprised mostly of councils, waste educators and companies that run material recovery facilities.”
Following engagement with the education group, Vaughan says Green Industries undertook market research with an estimated 1000 South Australian households.
According to Vaughan, the 2018 research examined current levels of contamination and separation knowledge in an attempt to understand information barriers.
“That research showed a clear preference for simple, consistent, state-wide messaging. Time and time again, householders remarked that they would recycle more, if they only knew which bin to use,” he says.
“I have to say, I have not been enamoured with the way we have traditionally conducted education programs.”
Vaughan says with Which Bin, Green Industries are approaching the public from multiple different mediums.
“I think that’s why the program has been successful,” he adds.
Which Bin urges residents to consider what they put in household recycling and organics bins, with the aim of improving the quality of recyclables.
The campaign includes a series of episodic television ads, a linked social media campaign and an educational website.
The Which Bin website is designed to act as a centralised space, where residents can access waste information relevant to their respective council.
Vaughan says Green Industries’ previous engagement program was called Recycle Right. However, focus groups found citizens preferred the name Which Bin.
“The problem is that householders weren’t getting consistent information across councils, and the advice they were getting was often unclear,” Vaughan says.
“People needed easy access to information about what different councils accept in each bin.”
Regulation information for all South Australian councils is available on the Which Bin website.
After a year of research, local South Australian advertising company Showpony were tasked with creating the campaign’s creative collateral.
“The ads are kind of like a sitcom, with links to the US comedy Modern Family,” Vaughan says.
Episode one of the four-part campaign introduces viewers to Vinnie and his family as they learn which bin to use and how to better recycle.
Four episodes have been produced so far, with titles such as “Vinnie embarrasses his daughter and recycles 10c containers for fun” and “Vinnie and Lucy recycle soft plastics … eventually”. When episodes end, viewers are directed to the Which Bin website.
Within the campaign’s first month, Vaughan says Green Industries saw significant traffic on the Which Bin website.
“Most people were accessing the site from mobile phones. The lesson being, if you’re going to do anything in the digital space, it has to be mobile-friendly,” he says.
“The social media campaign has blown us away through Facebook.”
According to Vaughan, within the campaign reached half a million people in its first month, which he says highlights the importance of a multi-pronged approach.
“Which Bin has its own Facebook page and in the first month we had more than 24,000 engagements on posts. It’s getting significant cut through,” Vaughan says.
Vaughan says as the campaign progresses, Green Industries will begin evaluating its effectiveness by checking bins.
“We are also planning more TV commercials, coming to air in the spring,” he says.
“Initial feedback from the public and the media has been very positive.”
A suite of resources for local government has also been developed, including calendars, bin stickers, signage, posters and customisable social media assets.
“All councils need to do is call our office and we can provide access to whatever the council wants to use,” Vaughan says.
The campaign is set to continue for at least three to four years.
“That’s the type of timeline you need to commit to with public education and awareness – I don’t see this going away,” he says.
“We needed a totally new approach and I think combining comedic television ads with an informative website has achieved that. Hopefully it bears fruit.”