3 Public Education Materials and Strategies
- Insights from our current research on B.C. residents’ 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.
3.1 Research, Segmentation Analysis
Since 1999, Encorp Pacific has undertaken market research on an annual basis to evaluate program knowledge, assess consumer behaviour and measure levels of brand equity for Encorp and Return-It across the province.
Research results are used to track changes over time as well as to provide information that is required by the provincial government.
One of the most critical pieces of understanding is to determine how to further reduce the level of throw-away behaviour (approximately 20% of beverage containers are known to not be recycled in B.C.).
An online survey was undertaken in September of 2018 among adults 18+ in B.C. We achieved a 98% awareness level for all container types that can be returned to a depot for deposit, and a 98% awareness level for all beverage container types that can be returned to a depot for deposit.
The annual studies conducted help us understand throw-away behaviour in as much depth as possible. We have seen significant success in reducing the number of beverage containers that end up in the landfill, however a small percentage are still not recycled. We continue to work hard to target this minority behaviour.
In 2018, we conducted our annual segmentation study to better understand the behaviours of discarders. Within the study, questions based on discard location, beverage container type, and frequency were asked.
This segmentation study produced a workable and interesting 4-segment solution (Established Returners, Reformed Recyclers, On-the-Go- Discarders, Habitual Trashers), which was described and profiled in detail in last year’s report.
3.2 Consumer Awareness
Support for the Return-It program continues through various advertising mediums, helping to maintain the 99% program awareness level by serving up the right message when it was relevant and meaningful. Targeted media such as television, radio, out of home, digital and social media were purchased.
- TV & Radio
We use television to reach a broad mass audience across the province and maintain a strong level of awareness with consumers. Our 15 second TV spots let viewers know that in B.C., recycling is just what we do. To tie this message together, the TV spots featured many different B.C. landmarks and events.
See more current commercials
Our two new radio spots this year had a focus on plastic beverage container recycling. Listen to our new radio spots here:
See more radio spots
- Out of Home
Exterior bus wraps were an important way to reinforce consumer awareness in targeted communities. We also used targeted transit shelter ads to call out the fact that a Return-It bin was located nearby.
- Consumer Brochures
Each year, we print a detailed consumer brochure in several languages. British Columbians can find these brochures at Return-It depots, major grocery stores, regional districts, and municipal offices across the province. Brochures are also available for download.
- Special Coverage
Relevant community information is distributed to the public through various platforms. The content is posted to the Encorp website and shared through our social channels. It is also sent out to stewards and influencers to help spread the word.
- Return-It.ca and Return-It Blog
This year Return-It.ca was completely overhauled with a modernized design and easier more consumer friendly navigation. The new website won a Gold Award from the AVA Digital Awards for the redesign.
- Corporate Videos
Corporate videos were used to further educate consumers about the recycling process for the various types of beverage containers.
See more corporate videos
- Special Focus: Underperforming Containers
Four animated information videos and targeted social media posts were promoted in order to provide an extra marketing “boost” to underperforming container types such as drink pouches and bi-metal cans.
See more informational videos
- Digital Ads
To extend our reach to our audience while they were out and about, we utilized digital mobile ads. These geo-fenced ads helped remind our audience that Return-It bins were nearby and accessible for their used beverage containers. There’s no excuse not to recycle when a bin is nearby!
We continue to use social media as support for our outreach programs and to 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 and at the same time we communicate our serious message about beverage recycling.
- 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
Over 1 billion containers were kept out of landfills in the past year. The majority of beverage containers sold in B.C. were recovered and recycled through the Return-It depot network and mobile collectors across the province. There’s always room for improvement, that’s why Encorp continues to run pilot initiatives and annual specialty programs to increase the recovery and recycling of beverage containers.
- Return-It to Win-It
To help drive visits to Return-It depots, Encorp conducted a consumer contest at participating depots across B.C. Much like the previous year, the contest focused on scratch and win gameplay with prizes available for customers to win. 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
Ease and convenience continue to be one of the biggest barriers to getting consumers to recycle their beverage containers; the Return-It Express program addresses both. Last year the program expanded, increasing the number of Return-It Express depots to 31 by the end of 2018.
To help promote the Express program in 2018, Return-It partnered with QMFM host Erin Davis who helped spread the word on-air and through social media. We mailed out approximately 247,000 brochures to surrounding households within a 3-5 minute drive time radius of Express locations. The direct mail pieces had helpful maps to direct recipients to their nearest location. Other items like e-blasts, social posts, and wild postings were also used to bring awareness and registrations to the program.
- 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. As part of the program, schools get to share their recycling stories in a contest format, in hopes of winning the grand prize of $5,000 or secondary prize of $2,500 for their school.
The winners of the 2018 Return-It School contest were Rutland Elementary and Stanley Humphries Secondary.
- Ambassador Team
Our Recycling 101 Ambassadors are a team of super smart “recycling scientists” complete with glasses and white lab coats. They use their expert knowledge to teach kids and parents the basic “101” of recycling.
The team attended over 70 high profile events, with focus on key areas with low return rates, including Surrey, Richmond, Victoria and Vancouver.
- B.C. Parks & Municipal Outdoor Spaces
B.C. parks and other municipal spaces that attract large amounts of pedestrian traffic continue to be a focus. The success of the program is contingent on being able to work closely with the different regional and municipal districts and B.C. Ministry of Forests, Land and Natural Resource Operations. There are well over 2,000 dedicated beverage container recycling bins for use in outdoor spaces and out of home venues throughout B.C.
- Industrial, Commercial & Institutional Sector (IC&I)
The Industrial, Commercial & Institutional (IC&I) sector is another area of interest for Encorp as large scale venues can account for a significant number of unredeemed beverage containers. We’ve partnered with institutions like the Sea to Sky Gondola, Nat Bailey Stadium, PNE, Cypress and Seymour Mountain to either provide or improve upon their existing recycling programs.
- Independent Return-It Depots Marketing and Promotion Commitments
Return-It depots submit their intended Marketing & Promotional Plans to Encorp. In 2018, the combined investment from depots adds approximately $1.4 million additional advertising expenditures.
- Stewardship Agencies of BC (SABC)
Encorp Pacific (Canada) is a founding member of SABC. We have led the way in the development of a group website, video profile and handbook aimed at consumers. Those who are looking to recycle additional materials outside of beverage containers are encouraged to visit www.bcrecycles.ca
- Corus Partnership
To help raise awareness of the important work Encorp is doing, we partnered with Corus Entertainment to leverage their broadcast media. By partnering with Corus we’re able to leverage the credibility of a third party to help us deliver our message. Lynda Steele, a well-known news personality, was featured throughout our messaging. Messaging also included President and CEO Allen Langdon who provided expertise on beverage container recycling. These interviews and segments opened an avenue where we were able to talk to the public about the challenges of single-serve plastic bottles and how the Return-It Express system will help ease the returning of these types of containers.
- Waste Reduction Week
To support the Recycling Council of BC’s (RCBC) Waste Reduction Week efforts, we aligned our Corus media partnership and social media posts during this timeframe.