Oct 26, 2021

Using on-pack messaging to boost recycling rates

Trials have shown that adding an on-pack prompt can lead to a "significant" rise in recycling.
Elisabeth Skoda

Recycle Now, the citizen campaign delivered by environmental charity WRAP, believes trials it conducted in the UK with Boots and Radox using on-pack messaging to encourage recycling could drive up plastic recycling.

From trials undertaken with both retailer and manufacturer using plastic bathroom bottles, Recycle Now found that the addition of a simply worded prompt to recycle on front of bottle resulted in a "significant" rise in recycling. This showed a 91% recycling rate for those who received a bottle with the message, compared to 86% who received bottles with no messaging.

Furthermore, when asked why they had recycled the bottle half of people who said they usually don’t recycle shower bottles referenced the messaging as the reason for doing so.

The organisation believes these trials are the first to demonstrate clear behaviour change resulting from this type of subtle message intervention.

Sarah Clayton, Head of Behavioural Change at WRAP, “The messaging is a simple prompt to recycle the item, but we’ve shown it’s an effective nudge on a key product that’s often overlooked and ends up in the bathroom bin. We believe this type of intervention has the potential to be applied to a huge range of products and can suit any brand and corporate identity.”

Monique Rossi, Marketing Director, Beauty & Personal Care, Unilever UK & Ireland said, “As part of our efforts to make all our plastic packaging recyclable, we were pleased to work with WRAP and Recycle Now on the trials. It is extremely encouraging to see the impact these messages can have and the potential for them to encourage people to recycle more.”

The trials tested messaging developed by WRAP’s behaviour change unit on both Boots’ Soft White Shower Cream and Radox, which carried the message ‘most people recycle me’ and the Recycle Now logo on the front of the plastic bottles. As well as standard OPRL (On Pack Recycling Label) on the reverse.

Inspired by the success of the pilot, WRAP’s behaviour change unit has designed and tested a range of messages that resonate with the public. WRAP and Recycle Now are keen to take forward this work and discuss this approach on more products.

Elisabeth Skoda

Editor of Touchpoints magazine, writer for Packaging Europe magazine and design enthusiast!
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