Recycle for Greater Manchester campaign busting recycling myths

Resource goes behind the scenes on the new #InTheLoopGM campaign by Recycle for Greater Manchester (R4GM) and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA). The campaign aims to bust myths around recycling by showcasing the local journey of recycled materials and the true meaning of the circular economy.

InTheLoop Campaign Greater Manchester Ria AluminiumThe marketing campaign takes a localised note, with adverts that mention the specifics of where items are recycled, for example: “Glass from Greater Manchester households is turned back into new jars right here in the North of England. In fact, the majority of recycled materials collected from households in Greater Manchester stay local.”

Other localised messaging from the campaign includes:

  • Our paper and cardboard are recycled at a paper mill in Trafford, which could be back in the loop by the next week;
  • Our food waste is transformed into compost in Todmorden, then used to grow crops down the road in Warrington;
  • Aluminium cans start their new life in Warrington, then they can be back on the supermarket shelves in just six weeks;
  • Our general waste is even transformed into energy at sites in Bolton and Runcorn and used to power homes and businesses.

The marketing messages are being run across multiple platforms including digital screens at key spots across the city-region and 200 adverts running on buses across Greater Manchester. Several newspapers including the Metro, Asian Leader, The Bury Times and Life in Salford magazine will feature targeted adverts with messaging that focuses on the material being consumed – for example, newspaper recycling adverts in newspapers.

Online, digital advertising is aimed at the key target audiences – young people, families, and residents from lower socio-economic backgrounds. The R4GM social media channels on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube will be supported by GMCA’s channels, as well as the social media channels of district partners.

On top of the messages highlighting the local destination of recycled materials, the campaign also features messaging and tutorial videos focusing on repair and reuse. R4GM is encouraging residents to get the most from its Renew Shops which take items donated at Recycling Centres and repairs them to be resold. The Education Team at the Renew Hub in Trafford Park will be hosting tours where the work being done will be showcased to residents.

Eamonn Boylan, GMCA chief executive lead for waste, commented: “Greater Manchester recycling rates are already above 50 per cent, but we know we can do more to help recycle, repair and reuse more items.

“Keeping things in use as long as possible by recycling, repairing and reusing waste is vitally important to help us reduce our impact on the environment and reduce our carbon emissions, but it also helps us all save money by reducing the amount we purchase and the number of items we throw away.”

The thinking behind the #InTheLoopGM campaign?

InTheLoop Campaign Greater Manchester Arjun Glass JarThe basis of the campaign originated during COP26 when waste was largely absent from the agenda. GMCA says that items such as plastic bottles, glass and cardboard feel far more prescient in residents’ lives than carbon or melting ice caps. It told Resource that when directly engaging with residents across Greater Manchester it became clear that ‘many don’t fully understand what happens to their waste once it’s been collected’.

The prevalence of myths around recycling also became apparent. For example, GMCA found that residents often think their waste ends up abroad, rather than almost always being recycled locally. Others believe an operative is hand-sorting their waste once it’s been collected whereas the reality is that once an incorrect item is placed in the wrong bin, it’s very unlikely to be found and removed. Furthermore, GMCA reports that residents struggle to understand the concept of the circular economy.

The campaign aims to tackle these misunderstandings and misconceptions by bringing to life what actually happens to residents’ waste to build trust, transparency and - importantly - engagement.

What will success look like?

The campaign aims to make residents think differently about the materials they consume – educating them to inspire long-term behaviour change. According to GMCA, the educational success of the campaign will be measured via video views, website visits, social media engagement, click-throughs from advertising and direct feedback through engagement activities.

In terms of behaviour change, GMCA will monitor kerbside collection across its nine councils (Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside and Trafford) for greater volume of mixed recycling and paper and card, and less contamination.

However, GMCA cautions that, as there are many internal and external factors that can influence kerbside collections, it will be challenging to link impact directly back to the campaign. The combined authority is considering running A/B testing in some collection rounds – running a lot of advertising in one area and running no advertising in another area with similar levels of recycling, and seeing the impact of the campaign.

The next phase of the campaign will launch later this year and examine the full circular journey of items once they’ve been collected (from the bin to back on the shelf). As GMCA has focused on the individuals who are recycling items, it says they hope to personalise the story even further by telling the stories of the staff who manage the waste once it’s been collected. As many of these operatives are based in Greater Manchester, it hopes this will help drive home the message that residents’ waste is staying local.

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