Communicating waste prevention

Effective communications will be tailored to suit different stakeholder groups and their different behaviours and motivations. Local authorities should work with local partners to push out communications and use national brands to build awareness on key waste prevention issues.

Key points

  • Communications should include a simple and clear call to action
  • Make use of existing brands to convey broad messages

Communications may be designed to convey campaign messages, but can also involve publicising particular communications activities such as talks, events, training and promotions. 

When conveying messages, general messaging on waste prevention and/or a focus on reducing waste does not seem to be effective. Each waste prevention behaviour is motivated by a different set of drivers, and a plan for each activity with its own tailored communications message is required to achieve a behaviour change. 

Once you have chosen your target consumable/product type or waste prevention activity look to that section of the Waste Prevention Hub for information to formulate your message. You will need to tailor your communications according to the following behaviour types:

  • How “visible” is the waste prevention behaviour? 
  • Is it a “one-off” or “repetitive” behaviour? 

Planning your communications

The next step is to segment your stakeholders since they will have different attitudes to re-use and consumption. A segment is a subgroup of people with broadly similar characteristics or needs.

Householders are the main stakeholder group and main focus of your communications. Start with your local authority’s own information resources and gather basic demographic information about your area and the people who live there. You may need to give particular consideration to hard to reach groups.

Other internal and external stakeholders and partners will be able to help you communicate your message. 

Your communications need to address the following barriers:

  • Behaviours: being too busy or not following a routine compatible with perceived time requirements for waste prevention.
  • Knowledge: understanding and awareness of waste prevention activities.
  • Attitudes/Perception: not accepting there is an environmental or other benefit to waste prevention.
  • Situational: e.g. not having space at home for storing bulk purchases.

Formatting and styling your communications

Your messages must be designed to engage, inform, educate, motivate and even inspire your target audiences. Depending on what your objectives are, your message needs to: 

  • be personal
  • be simple and clear 
  • address the barriers of your target audience 
  • focus on a single action or an issue and how to overcome it
  • you need a clear ‘call to action’ - a clear statement urging people to do something 
  • be consistent

You can make use of national waste prevention partner’s communications materials and branding – see the WRAP partners website for a set of resources including logos, templates and images for campaigns such as Love Your Clothes and Love Food Hate Waste. In addition, WRAP has produced an indicative costs guide when planning and procuring communications activities.

Working with residents using co-design and deliberative consultation can help to inform which form of communications and messages are effective.

You should make use of a wide range of communications channels, and aim to coordinate these with and work through external partners. Examples include:

  • press releases
  • online and social media activity
  • media/opinion formers
  • roadshows
  • posters
  • banners