Making recycling simpler for all

Client: Ministry for the Environment

MFE005 CS1

A consistent nationwide approach to recycling was a major piece of work for the Ministry for the Environment and councils everywhere. 'Recycle Right' was designed to directly address the confusion about what can, and can't, be recycled.

The Brief

As part of the Government’s work programme to reduce waste and emissions, the Ministry for the Environment introduced changes to recycling rules so that it would be easier for New Zealanders to know how to recycle the right things from home.

We were engaged to develop a tactical recycling campaign, aligned with the launch of new kerbside standardisation rules, that could be rolled out at a national level and by local councils.

The Solution

The project commenced with an extensive research phase which initially consisted of a review of global best practice. This was followed by a nationwide survey of councils to understand their challenges, the barriers to higher levels of correct recycling; and their appetite for a toolbox of communication resources. The findings were expanded upon through a series of targeted focus groups.

With clearly defined objectives, a series of possible creative directions were whittled down to two possible ideas. A series of visuals were created to test both ideas with a variety of audiences groups. 

The winning idea – Recycle Right - was designed to directly address two major barriers to recycling:

  1. confusion about what can, and can’t, be recycled; and
  2. what happens to our recycling. 

Creatively, we wanted a clean and uncluttered design approach that cut through the significant noise and misinformation confusing audiences. Clear cut objects on white backgrounds, supported by bold messaging, saw this approach come to life. Teal was chosen as the main colour, to represent a combination of Aotearoa, clean waters, skies, and nature. A friendly, crisp font was also chosen to communicate the message in the most accessible way possible.

The hero execution is a series of five short videos, each showing the journey of a recycled item. Each video opens with a question and uses a ‘swipe right’ dating app approach to show the value of ‘recycling right.’ We then follow that item, from being recycled, through a simplified animation process, to becoming a brand-new item.

A series of billboards, posters, press and social media ads, along with other collateral, all take the same single-minded approach, showing a particular product – like a drink can – and explaining that ‘Yes, it can be recycled’ and how to do it properly.

These promotional items became the backbone of an extensive tool kit provided to all councils to create their own communication programme based on their specific needs and recycling practices. Another key feature of the tool kit was an extensive set of graphics and icons which became a unifying nationwide recycling language. Like the rest of the campaign, the graphic approach was simple and uncluttered. Its communication effectiveness was enhanced by a yellow, red, and green colour system that directly aligned with the recycling bin each item went into.

The result

All councils were provided access to the over 300 assets and promotional items – along with extensive application guidelines - to promote better recycling practices in their area.  There has been a high level of adoption, across the country from both large and small councils. The feedback from councils, and their audiences, has consistently been about the simplicity and clarity of the material and how it speaks directly to key recycling. It’s a good start and we look forward to seeing more Kiwis recycling right.