Communicating for Impact category
2022 AWARD FINALIST
Sponsored by Federation
Fifteen years ago, Timaru District was one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s top performing regions for kerbside recycling. After recycling temporarily stopped during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown, Timaruvians became confused about sorting their rubbish and recycling. By June 2020, 48% of Timaru’s recycling was being contaminated with waste and going to landfill, costing ratepayers more than $250,000 each year. Redruth landfill was filling twice as fast as predicted, and if something wasn’t done, Timaru ratepayers would be footing the bill for a $55 million landfill 10 years earlier than expected.
To re-educate people on sorting their household waste, Timaru District Council asked Priority Communications to develop and deliver a dynamic and innovative public education campaign. The campaign, called ‘What’s In Your Bin?’, identified three messages that would make the biggest impact on improving Timaru’s recycling: ‘1,2,5 plastics only in your yellow bin’; ‘Sticky or Icky? Not in your yellow bin’; and ‘In Timaru we recycle topless, lids go in the red bin’.
The campaign was tied to these messages and promoted across a wide range of communications channels using local champions Mayor Nigel Bowen, councillor Barbara Gilchrist, comedian Josh Thomson, and international skating star Nicole Begg.
Billboards, social media, newspaper advertising and media coverage featured the champions posing with recyclable plastics and items of rubbish, as well as tastefully topless for the message – In Timaru, we recycle topless.
The saucy images, and a quirky recycling video with Josh Thomson, went viral on social media and appeared on national media. The people of Timaru responded by greatly improving their recycling. Within just six months, the level of contaminated recycling had dropped to 16%, with the campaign credited for a significant change in behaviour from Timaru residents.