3 Public Education Materials and Strategies
- Insights from our current research on B.C.’s recycling attitudes and behaviours.
- A review of advertising and marketing activities conducted to increase recovery rates.
- Overview of community-based programs and initiatives to encourage additional beverage container recycling.
- For full detailed consumer awareness report, click Download Section 3.
3.1 Research Benchmark Study – 2016
Each year, since 1999, Encorp tasks a professional research company to survey over a thousand B.C. consumers about their recycling knowledge, attitudes and behaviours. These results are then compared to previous years and are used to benchmark and track changes over time. The research, combined with statistical data, has proven to be an integral part of building strategy and targeting efforts to recycle refundable beverage containers and keep them out of landfills.
Between September 12th to 25th of 2016, Insights West collected data from over 1,200 participants using an online survey. The sample was weighted by age, gender and region according to Census Canada figures—this ensures the results are representative of British Columbia’s general population. Quotas were also put into place by region, and in Metro Vancouver, by city, to ensure appropriate samples were gathered for accurate analysis.
Awareness Levels of Places to Return Beverage Containers
Return-It depots continue to be the top-of-mind location for recycling of beverage containers in the province.
Q: When it comes to the various places you can return beverage containers for recycling or for a refund on deposit, what places come to mind?
Knowledge of Refundable Beverage Types and Container Types
We continuously focus our marketing efforts to ensure residents of B.C. know what can be returned for deposit refund and recycling. Public awareness levels of the types of beverages and containers registered in the Return-It system remains very high. Research shows that almost everyone in B.C. is aware of the deposit system and which of the beverages they consume/use need to be taken back to a Return-It depot.
Q: To the best of your knowledge, can the following types of containers be returned for a refund on deposit?
Q: To the best of your knowledge, in British Columbia, can containers with the following beverages be returned for a refund on deposit?
3.2 Consumer Awareness
To maintain the high awareness levels we have reached and increase awareness of the Return-It depot network, advertising messages were included in relevant programming on television, radio, out of home, digital and social media. Where possible, our efforts focused on having contextual messaging—serving up the right message when it was relevant and meaningful.
In 2016 our efforts were focused on the "On-the-Go Discarder" and the "Habitual Trasher", two key demographics with the highest discard behaviour. These segments are generally younger in age, and discard behaviour often happens when they are out-and-about.
- TV & Radio
We use television to reach a broad mass audience across the province and maintain a strong level of awareness with consumers.
See more current commercials
Our radio campaign featured our puppets using their unique personalities to remind people of the 3 Rs: “React to non-recyclers by ROLLING your eyes, RAISING your eyebrows and REMINDING them to Return-It.”
See more radio spots
- Cineplex Pre-show & Fresh Air Cinema
Our TV ads also run prior to movies at both Cineplex theatres and the outdoor Fresh Air Cinema events that take place in the summer months.
- Out of Home
Exterior bus wraps continued to be an important piece for reinforcing consumer awareness. We’ve seen incremental gains in year-over-year research results, and awareness levels far exceed benchmarks, reaching as high as 46% among regular transit users in Surrey.
- Consumer Brochures
Each year, we print a detailed consumer brochure that provides an overview of the Return-It system: what it is, how it works, and how it’s making a difference.
We place advertorials in various newspapers and magazines throughout the province. These help to highlight key statistics and recovery trends, and provide information about specific recycling programs we’re running.
- Return-It.ca and Return-It Blog
The website and blog give consumers a quick and convenient place to find important information such as depot locations and the latest recycling news. Visit: return-it.ca/blog
- Corporate Videos
We created new corporate videos to further educate consumers about the recycling process of the various types of beverage containers.
See more corporate videos
- Videos Promoting Underperforming Containers
Four new animated information videos were created in order to give an extra marketing “boost” to two underperforming container types, drink pouches and bi-metal cans.
See more informational videos
Social media is used to support our outreach programs and raise awareness about the recycling of specific containers. The “Return-It Gang” puppets provide a voice and personality that is well-suited to social media, allowing us to engage our audience in a lighthearted, slightly “cheeky” tone at the same time we communicate our serious message about beverage recycling.
- Digital Ads
We know our target audience spends a lot of time online. We developed an online ad campaign to reach them where and when they surfed the internet. Mobile ads deliver highly contextual messages that aligned with the actions of "Habitual Trashers" and "On-the-Go Discarders".
- Outdoor Advertising & Mainstream Media Effectiveness Test
During July and August we conducted a media effectiveness test pilot in Surrey. We purchased most of the local advertising spaces (transit shelters; billboards; posters in and around Skytrain stations; etc.) and used them to promote all 13 Surrey Return-It depots. By blanketing a single community with a location-specific message, we encouraged residents to visit depots they might not have been aware of and return more containers. Results were impressive: during our advertising period, recovery volume for the 13 Surrey Return-It depots was up 12%, compared to a 2% increase in other community depots in Greater Vancouver.
- SmartMoves Direct Mail
To ensure new residents of Surrey, Langley and Richmond knew the location of their local Return-It depot, we partnered with Canada Post on a program called SmartMoves, delivering a direct mail piece to everyone who had recently moved into these communities. On the card: a map to their local depot along with a coupon redeemable for a welcome gift of either a Return-It Gang movie-themed calendar or a durable, reusable recycling bag to hold their empty beverage containers. The Return-It depots that participated in our three pilot communities welcomed 495 brand new households to their depots during the redemption period.
- Annual Report
The annual report provides a comprehensive overview of Encorp Pacific operations. It is available on our website for online viewing, and also as a downloadable PDF.
3.3 Recycling Programs and Initiatives
Through the network of 172 Return-It depots and many certified mobile collectors across B.C., 78% of the beverage containers sold in the province were recovered and recycled. That’s over one billion containers that were kept out of our landfills in the past year. But there’s always room for improvement. That’s why Encorp continues to run its annual specialty programs and pilot initiatives to find new ways to increase the recovery and recycling of beverage containers.
- Return-It to Win-It
To help drive visits to Return-It depots, an annual consumer contest was implemented across B.C. In 2016 we introduced a new scratch-and-win gameplay and prize structure. Customers had a chance to instantly win gift card prizes and also enter into the grand prize draw of $25,000 cash.
- Return-It Express
The expansion of the Return-It Express program continues to provide consumers with an easy and convenient way to recycle beverage containers without having to sort them first.
There are currently 10 depots that operate the Return-It Express program and it has been well received by consumers. There are over 1,000 registered users.
- Return-It School
Since 2000, elementary and high schools across B.C. have had the opportunity to promote recycling and environmental stewardship via our school program, Return-It School. In 2016, schools had a choice how they wanted to participate in the program. Similar to previous years, schools could choose to track the number of containers recycled and compete against other schools to win cash prizes. Alternatively, they could choose to be recognized formally for their beverage recycling and environmental stewardship by becoming a Certified Return-It School.
As an official partner of the BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils, Encorp created specific Return-It School material to share with all PAC groups across B.C.
- Ambassador Team
Return-It Man and our ambassador team attended over 125 events throughout the province during the year, encouraging people to recycle while on-the-go.
- BC Soccer Grant
The partnership with BC Soccer provides free collection bins for soccer fields and clubs across B.C., along with an annual scholarship awarded to an outstanding student athlete pursing continuing education.
- Industrial, Commercial & Institutional Sector (IC&I)
Many containers not being collected through the Return-It system are discarded within the IC&I sector, primarily at large-scale venues with a high concentration of people. In 2016, we partnered with institutions such as BC Place, the PNE, The Victoria Royals and the University Neighbourhoods Association (UNA) at UBC to install almost 400 bins throughout B.C.
- Multifamily Action Team
The team continues to target multifamily buildings through grassroots marketing. Face-to-face meetings with strata and building managers allowed our team to install collection bins, post easy-to-understand signage and distribute tenant information to increase collection of refundable containers within buildings. In 2016, we added 21 large multifamily buildings to the program, representing over 1,000 housing units.
- Independent Return-It Depots Marketing and Promotion Commitments
Return-It depots submit their intended Marketing & Promotional Plans to Encorp. Combined, the investments from depots, if fulfilled, would add approximately $1.4 million in additional advertising spending. Over 150 plans were submitted in 2016.
- Stewardship Agencies of BC (SABC)
In 2016, Encorp was one of many stewards who participated in the BC Recycles Ambassador Tour program, which promoted extended producer responsibility (EPR) in B.C.
- Depot Operators Regional Workshops
Annually Encorp organizes and finances a regular conference for depot owners and operators. We use this event to introduce new programs, share knowledge and report on recycling initiatives.
- Waste Reduction Week
To support the Recycling Council of BC’s (RCBC) Waste Reduction Week efforts, Encorp provided educational material to schools on how they could help reduce waste with programs such as Return-It School.