Alupro's campaign plan to improve aluminium foil recycling
Since its launch in July, 50 local authorities have rolled out Alupro’s new aluminium recycling campaign. We go behind the scenes to understand best practices for changing behaviour in partnership with local authorities.
Running between July and December, Alupro’s new #FoilFriday campaign targets consumers with a series of digital media assets promoting best practices for aluminium foil recycling. The resources include information on how to clean and properly dispose of the foils, as well as how to perform a simple scrunch test to differentiate between recyclable aluminium products and metalised plastics – when crumpled up and let go, recyclable foils will remain compacted, while non-recyclable ones will unfurl.
The social media campaign aims to help local authorities engage with residents about aluminium foil recycling. The resources are completely free and available to download from Alupro’s website.
The need for a campaign on aluminium foil recycling
In December 2021, Resource Futures carried out a sampling study with 25 UK local authorities to determine a baseline recycling rate for aluminium foil. Although collected through kerbside systems within over 80 per cent of local authorities, a review of national composition data estimated a capture rate of approximately one per cent for aluminium foil. The study also found that the capture rate for aluminium foil was on average 11 per cent, with a low of one per cent and a high of 51 per cent.
On top of this, WRAP found in its annual recycling survey in 2022 that foils were the second most likely material to be disposed of incorrectly, with 27 per cent of subjects missing the opportunity to recycle it.
While the Resource Futures findings are higher than previously estimated, Alupro says it was clear that it needed to invest in communications to increase the capture rate of foil. This is especially important when considering that, in the future, the collection of aluminium packaging will change and over 90 per cent of used beverage cans (UBCs) will be collected via the UK Deposit Return Scheme (DRS). This is likely to leave other aluminium packaging (such as foil and aerosols) behind which have always been harder to collect and sort. These ‘non-beverage’ formats face a mandatory 50 per cent recycling target by 2030.
A spokesperson for Alupro commented: “We know from WRAP’s annual recycling tracker survey that aluminium foil is one of the most confusing items for households to recycle. One factor we believe is that foil has many applications and consumers simply need to be able to recognise foil in all its many forms.
“Foil trays, kitchen wrapping foil, dairy lidding, chocolate foil are just a few examples and are all endlessly recyclable! Throughout the resources, we provide information on how to present foil for recycling with messaging for cleaning, balling and for the scrunch test to test if the packaging is foil or not.”
Creating the #FoilFriday campaign
Alupro developed the campaign resources in-house, with an external graphic designer creating the final assets. The non-profit has been behind many consumer campaigns before such as MetalMatters, European brand Every Can Counts and Foil in Love with Recycling and is used to creating with local authority partners at the forefront of its mind. Its approach aims to be approachable, but still with an informative identity for the campaign. INCPEN’s survey on Public Confidence in Recycling shows that consumers respond well to recycling messages that come directly from their local council so the partnership is very important.
Alupro says that linking the campaign to key events, such as the Women’s World Cup and Baking Week, provides a great opportunity to connect with larger audiences but also have fun with the creatives and copy. The campaign uses bright backgrounds with images of real people, real packaging and a few puns thrown in for good measure, which Alupro says has worked well on other campaigns. The production process always begins with the dates of the key themes in mind and then the messages get interspersed throughout.
Alupro adds that it wanted the campaign to feel light-hearted but to provide a consistent drumbeat of content about foil packaging right through from Summer to the New Year. It is important that consumers have many opportunities to see the creatives in order for the messages to be received and behaviour-change to take place over time.
Alliteration aside, the organisation says it decided upon #FoilFriday as the theme for the campaign as its own social posts have historically performed well on Friday. It attributes this to people making the shift from the working week to the weekend ahead and being more receptive to campaign messaging.
Structure of the campaign
The six-month campaign was funded by the European Aluminium Foil Association (EAFA) and website content, fact sheets and a series of localised press releases to be published throughout the period are now all accessible to local authorities. The assets – which are available in both English and Welsh – will be released in three staggered phases, with links in each to the key events. Phase two of the materials was released online last week. However, Alupro says that the assets will remain online ‘long after’ the official end date.
The spokesperson added: “Breaking it down gave us a chance to really focus on getting the creatives right and also to communicate regularly with our local authority audience. They are a busy bunch and a campaign launched in July could very easily be forgotten by November!”
The non-profit has also announced that the council which shares the materials most consistently will receive £5,000 in funding towards its own foil recycling campaign once Alupro’s campaign ends in December. The campaign can be managed by Alupro, so will not necessarily mean extra work for the partners although they will be able to take creative direction.
#FoilFriday so far
Alupro is happy to announce that since the campaign kicked off in January over 50 local authorities have already downloaded and started using the materials, but hopes to encourage further uptake of the online resources at the upcoming RWM exhibition and LARAC conferences.
Tom Giddings, executive director at Alupro, commented: “One of our key roles as an organisation is consumer education and by working closely with local authorities, we’re able to effectively communicate the benefits and importance of recycling aluminium packaging.
“Throughout all of our campaigns, the most important message is that aluminium is infinitely recyclable, meaning it can be repurposed time and time again – and crucially, this is where making a few small changes can add up to a big environmental impact.
“We’re confident that this campaign will enable us to reach a wider audience, while also contributing to the increase in aluminium packaging recycling rates.”