This contribution forms part of our broader research with OpenIDEO Melbourne. Street Intercepts is a research technique where several people are interviewed "in-situ". For each person (and small business) interviewed we asked:
- How do you feel about plastic usage in Australia?
- How do you feel about plastic recycling in Australia and particularly in Melbourne?
- Tell us which of those plastic items a recyclable? (note: we had displayed a bag, a coffee cup with its lid, a bag of chip, a food take-away contained, a bottle of water and a bottle of soda)
Respondents provided open answers to each of those questions, which proved to be very insightful! Below is a summary of what consumers feel towards plastic and the key insights that came out of the Street Intercept.
- Plastic isn't the bad guy here! Plastic has great material properties which is why it's been widely used. It also provides convenience.
- Everyone interviewed think we should do more and they care about recycling.
- Information about recycling is largely inconsistent. For example, most of consumers thought the coffee cup is recyclable. It also depends on each council with no consistency across state or the country.
- Government and council should play a crucial role in educating consumers and creating adequate policies.
- Consumers are frustrated as they feel they are doing their part but to do more they feel powerless as they lack information and means to do the right thing.
- A few people shared that it's a system challenge and believe the answer is broader than a particular product wrap or material. The whole value chain has to be looked at.
Key points of discussions/questions/caveat:
- Most of people interviewed were environmentally conscious. Results might be different if we had a broader spectrum of the population.
- No one was certain whether one item or the other one was recyclable.
- A few people pointed out that there are only two bins in Australia to recycle whilst other countries in Europe have implemented 3-4 bins to split items.