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Communication: the key to boosting recycling attitudes in the workplace

People with a negative view of recycling are more likely to change their attitude after seeing positive messages about the benefits. That’s the main finding of recycling research commissioned by PR agency Ceris Burns International and undertaken by Mindlab International.

Results from the independent study also showed that there is still a marked indifference towards recycling at work. A large number of the respondents admitted simply not bothering if recycling facilities are not provided on site; and many also said that confusion still reigns when it comes to being sure about what items can and cannot be recycled, both at home and at work.

The key findings of the independent survey were:

  • People subconsciously think recycling is more important after viewing positive messages
  • 44% probably wouldn’t make the effort to take their recycling elsewhere if they didn’t have facilities at work
  • Just over half of the respondents would encourage work colleagues to recycle
  • Recycling facilities at work are high but could be increased – 78% of respondents said they had recycling bins
  • 52% are confused about what they can and can’t recycle
  • 69% of respondents preferred leaflets as the main method of receiving information about recycling services
  • Only half of respondents avoid buying products with excessive packaging

Practical steps based on the results – which revealed a marked need for clear and concise communications campaigns to help increase recycling rates – are outlined in a best practice guide, launched by Ceris Burns International. The guide recommends a range of tactics and tips, including recruiting recycling champions at work; running focus groups and consultation exercises; taking the ‘less is more’ approach; and using a mix of ‘traditional’ and ‘hi-tech’ communication methods.

Ceris Burns, managing director of Ceris Burns International, said:

“Recycling programmes abound, but rates are still not yet at EU targets. Greater public participation in recycling schemes is desirable, but how can we get more people to recycle? The message from this research is it’s all about the message.

“Positive phrasing and communication will get the best results, instead of more negative ways to encourage people to recycle such as ‘pay as you throw’. Our study showed that positive messages had the greatest effect on those who are hardest to reach, the people who are more cynical about its benefits on the environment, and consequently recycle less.

“This research will help the recycling and waste management industry to formulate positioning of their future communications campaigns. Our guide provides a number of practical ways that organisations can improve recycling at work, making it easier for employees to participate, and increasing corporate social responsibility.”

Two hundred people completed an online test that consisted of questions regarding their current recycling behaviour and attitudes to recycling. They then viewed either positive or negative images and messages about recycling; followed by an implicit test measuring how important they felt recycling was; finishing by answering questions about their intentions to recycle in the future. The test group included a wide range of ages and professions, located across England, Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland.





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