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 this year among adults 18+ in B.C. We achieved a 99% awareness level for all container types that can be returned to a depot for deposit, and a 99% awareness level for all non-alcohol 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 2019, 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 allowed us to understand the impact of the Express system towards frequency of visits and preferred method of return.
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. In 2019 an Express specific TV spot was added to explain and promote the system.
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
- Music Streaming
The music streaming service Spotify was identified as a new way to reach one of our specific target audiences. New 15 second audio spots were created that spoke uniquely to Millennials.
- 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
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
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
Within the advertising plan, 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
- Bus Shelter Ads
To remind people about the importance of recycling, we used transit bus stops in Victoria and a unique poster with eyes that appear to follow you as you walk past them.
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.
- Annual Report
Our comprehensive and interactive Annual Report can be found on our website. Visitors can view the Annual Report either on our website or choose to download a PDF file.
- Customer Service
Encorp expanded its Customer Relations Team which manages all customer and stakeholder inquiries. Its Customer Relations team maintains a continuous focus on the customer and stakeholder experience and identifies improvement opportunities and solutions. Customer inquiries and trends are tracked, analyzed and evolved, as needed. To support the increasing number of customers through Return-It Express and other programs, Encorp continues to optimize its tools to enhance the customer and stakeholder experience.
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, Return-It Express and Return-It Express & GO across the province. Initiatives and annual specialty programs to increase the recovery and recycling of beverage containers.
- 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 marked the program’s first large scale rollout, increasing the number of Return-It Express depots to over 60 locations across the Lower Mainland. Customers simply set up an online account at express.return-it.ca, place their empty beverage containers into transparent bags and take them to a Return-It Express depot. Once there, using the touch screen terminal provided, a customer enters their phone number to log in, prints off a label to attach to their bags, and drops them in the designated area. The empty containers are then sorted and counted for the customer. The refund on deposit is credited to their online account and can be redeemed for a cheque or Interac e-Transfer.
To ensure the successful launch of the new Express program, a series of partnerships were strategically chosen to help generate buzz and promote the launch. City TV and radio partnerships were used as mass media tactics to reach target audience. With the proven success of direct mail, over 700,000 households in the Lower Mainland received a new direct mail brochure. Social media was also used to target specific communities and neighborhoods.
- Welcome Package
If the Express program wasn’t easy enough, to remove any barriers for new customers who sign-up, a Welcome Package was mailed to make their first visit even easier. The Welcome Package included recycling bags for their empty containers and pre-printed bag labels for their account.
- Express Promotion
Since the introduction of the Return-It Gang back in 2011, there have been many requests for plush versions of these lovable characters. The expansion of the Express was the perfect time to finally introduce plush versions of the Return-It Gang. In addition to the deposit refund that customers receive when they return their empties through the Express program, each container is counted as one Plush promotion credit.
- 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 2019 Return-It School contest were Tsi Deldel Elementary and Aubrey Elementary School.
- 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.
- Sports Team Partnerships
In 2019, we developed new partnerships with three of Vancouver’s local sports franchises: Vancouver Canucks, Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Vancouver Canadians. The partnerships have been beneficial on a variety of fronts; ensuring the proper beverage recycling bins at each venue, expanding our outreach program to new audiences and deepening the connection with our customers and community.
- Independent Return-It Depots Marketing and Promotion Commitments
Return-It depots submit their intended Marketing & Promotional Plans to Encorp. In 2019, the combined investment from depots adds approximately $1 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.
- Recycling Roundtable Interview
As Return-It expands its partnership with other recycling programs, it provided the opportunity to bring three experts from the recycling field and have a roundtable discussion on various topics and the successes of each program. The roundtable discussion was moderated by Lynda Steele and featured Allen Langdon of Return-It, Craig Wisehart of Electronic Products Recycling Association (EPRA) and Michael Zarbl of Major Appliances Recycling Roundtable (MARR).
- Waste Reduction Week
To support the Recycling Council of B.C.’s (RCBC) Waste Reduction Week efforts, we aligned our Corus media partnership and social media posts during this timeframe.
- Ocean Ambassadors
Encorp Pacific (Canada) sponsored the expansion of the Ocean Ambassadors program so that 165 elementary school students can learn about how plastics affect the marine environment and become life-long ambassadors who can make a meaningful impact in their schools and communities.
- Shoreline Cleanup
To contribute during International Coastal Cleanup Day Encorp Pacific (Canada) team conducted a shoreline clean up and collected 13.8 kilograms of waste and recyclables from the coastline at Old Orchard Park in Port Moody, B.C.
- Closing the Loop Podcast
Encorp’s new podcast series ”Closing the Loop, a conversation about recycling, sustainability and the circular economy” provides an ideal outlet for thought leadership as President & CEO Allen Langdon speaks with industry leaders around the globe to bring awareness to environmental challenges and innovations.
Return-It published the first 4 episodes of Closing the Loop in 2019 – listeners can find the podcast on all major streaming platforms. Closing the Loop episodes were downloaded 549 times in 2019, with the most listeners (38%) tuning in on Apple Podcast. Allen welcomed many exciting and knowledgeable guests onto 2019’s podcast episodes from organizations like the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Coca-Cola, Amcor Ltd., Metro Vancouver, and Salvation Army.