Posts Tagged 'litter'

Making Bins Fun

The Keep Britain Tidy campaign have just released research into what brands of fast food contribute most to the litter across England. In a report that makes strangely compelling reading, we learn that four of the top five worst offenders are big name brands; McDonalds at 29% (then unbranded chippie/kebab shops at second with 21%), Greggs in third place with 18%, KFC at 8% and Subway at 5%.

The Voxpop column of the current edition of Design Week picks up on this research and, noting that the packaging already contains graphics and messaging about littering, asks the bosses of four design and branding consultancies “what can design do to alleviate the problem?”. Here’s what they reckon:

John Mather of Blue Marlin responds that brands need to find innovative ways to change behaviour, suggesting placing bins at a distance from the fast food outlet based on the time taken to consume the food, and making those bins fun to use – proposing basketball hoops above the bins as an option.

Hans Muysson of DJPA lumps for attractive fast-food bins outside the outlets, subsidised by the brands, thus allowing them a chance to increase their levels of PR and possibly influence the consumers.

Barry Seal of Anthem Worldwide outlines two avenues; first the technical approach of reducing packaging (and making it biodegradable or recyclable), then the behavioural approach of making the anti-litter message on the packaging visible and compelling. He also picks up on the fun bin idea.

Finally, Steve Irwine of LFH nails his colours to the mast by saying that no amount of anti-littering labelling will stop people dropping litter, and advocates the purely technical solution of reducing the waste by redesigning the packaging from more natural substances, even edible wrappers.

Interesting to see these reponses. The majority advocate a technical solution to reduce the impact of the problem (biodegradable packaging etc.) and a behavioural solution by making changes that make consumers more likely to use the bins (either putting them in the right place, or making them more fun to use). One of the most suprising responses for me is the final one, in which labelling is not thought to have any potential for encouraging behaviour change – is labelling capable of driving some behaviours (like consumption), but powerless in other areas then? The whole question of how you design bins that encourage people to use them is fascinating – maybe we’ll revisit it in a future post.

It all reminds me of the anti-littering campaign in Texas, mentioned in Nudge (but really no more than a successful social marketing campaign), which followed an unsuccessful previous campaign that tried to impress on people that it was their “civic duty to stop littering”. The new campaign, informed by research on exactly who was doing the littering (18 to 24 year old men) used a “tough-talking slogan that would also address the unique spirit of Texas pride”, players from the Dallas Cowboys and Willie Nelson. Apparently, Don’t Mess with Texas is now “America’s favourite” slogan and litter across the state in the first year was reduced by 29%.

Could it happen in the UK?


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