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Why I don't recycle on a regular basis...

I think the main reason why people don't recycle as much as they should is because there is no accountability placed on the individual when they take their trash out. If I want to place recyclable items in the normal trash I can do so, if I am feeling too lazy to separate the recyclable items from the regular trash. Large multinational organisations do very little to encourage people to recycle and there is limited awareness of what happens if we don’t recycle i.e. marine life dying when they get caught up in plastic. It is too often assumed people are going to recycle because it is the right thing to do. People need to be reminded through advertising on packing of the importance of recycling every time they buy something.

Photo of Brad

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If we want to increase the amount of things that are recycled we need to create greater awareness of what happens when we don't recycle. In Australia tobacco manufactures are no longer able to advertise their brand names on cigarette packets, images of diseased organs are placed on the packs to reinforce the effects that smoking has on the body. Images of our environment being destroyed should be placed on packing to remind customers of what can happen to the environment if we don't recycle.

If it was possible to use a certain amount of space on the back of a soda bottle for example to show the effect that plastic can have on marine life i feel you would see an increase in the amount of soda bottles that are recycled as there is an incentive for people to recycle the bottle!

 

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Photo of Karan Gopalani

Hi Brad,
a very valid point that widely popular companies like Coca-Cola can do much more when it comes to promoting recycling of their own packaging.
However, I doubt if they would ever come up with an actual image on their product of what damage does it do if not recycled properly. Visual imagery does not have great affect on usage/consumption patterns (for example: Cigarettes).
It can definitely magnify the recycling logo on its bottles so as to promote it.
Another interesting alternative is the video that Quincy has linked.

Cheers Mate!

Photo of Quincy Lui

Hi Brad,

Good idea about encouraging better recycling habits through impact visual imagery. The irony of Coke promoting better recycling seems to be most pronounced in the actual packing where the 'Please Recycle' icon is then placed next to the text of 'No Refill' (in your picture above). Coke's position to positively encourage better recycling habits would be given greater legitimacy if there was a fundamental change in packaging and distribution. Perhaps instead of the usual aluminium cans or plastic bottles currently used, Coke could have region specific mobile trucks / vendors who can refill customer's home usage through a more environmentally friendly and multi-purpose item, such as perishable bag material.

The concept of having beverages contained in bags is not a new concept, being used in many South East Asia nations - the video below even shows Coke being housed in bags, demonstrating it is already a proven (although not necessarily perfected) concept.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wu7kBdECu84

It would be interesting to see any developments in this sphere to encourage more innovative ways to improve recycling habits.

Photo of Ashegan Mudeliar

Interesting idea Quincy and good point with regards to the mixed messages on its packaging.

With regards to your suggestion..i think a challenge here is maintaining product quality. The use a bag material may be ok for immediate consumption (since it is soda based)- but will not keep for much long as the product will deteriorate.
You can then say that these trucks can come around to customer and refill their older coke bottles- however this can also have issues with regards to potential product contamination due to un-santinary bottles- this can severely impact cokes brand image and so isn't a prudent option for coke- as it can leave the company open to possible legal ramifications.

What coke do in South Africa is quite good in that you can purchase say a 1.25L coke in a glass bottle, and when you make the purchase at the vendor you swap your old empty glass coke bottles around. By doing this you pay much less than you would if you purchase without swapping old bottles.
Coke than picks up these old bottles from vendors and would properly sanitises them for re-use.

Photo of Brad

I agree with you Ash being able to swap empty coke bottles for new coke bottles on a global scale would make a real difference!

Photo of Congmin Liang

"People need to be reminded through advertising on packing of the importance of recycling every time they buy something." It is really true!
And there is a problem that a lot of companies or manufactures did not make the noticeable reminder of recycling. It is important to allow everyone know the bottle should be recycled, and not only the bottles, but also other things. Sometimes we did not noticed that the bottles and cans should be recycling. They need to make the recycling mark way bigger than before.

Photo of Brad

I take your point Congmin, people need to be aware of the importance of recycling. Anything that reminds people to recycle has to be a good thing!

Photo of Tom Damiani

Hi Brad! Very interesting idea. Do you think there might be a lot of push-back from corporations about changing the look of their products? After all, the design of a product is extremely important from a marketing perspective. Also, cigarettes themselves are known to cause all sorts of health problems, and so it makes sense for governments to require tobacco companies to place these disturbing images on cigarette packages. However, things like soda cans don't do harm to the environment themselves, but rather it is the consumer that is ultimately responsible for this harm. How could you convince Coca Cola, for example, that it is in their best interest to place disturbing images on its bottles and cans?

Photo of Brad

Hi Tom,

I think a large multinational like Coca Cola would embrace this concept if it they could see that it would add some social credibility to their brand. I don't think you would be able to get an image on all of their products all the time but you would be able to get the images on their products if it was part of a large scale recycling campaign. Rather that having the images on the label i was thinking that you could tear the label off and on the other side of the label there would beimages of the effects that rubbish can have on the environment. This would prompt people to dispose of the products properly rather than discard them in the normal trash.

Photo of Niklas Jansen

Interesting idea.

Would be interesting to learn if those pictures stop people from smoking. I can imagine that people are already familiar with the consequences of smoking and therefore do not change their behavior. Do you have data about the success of these campaigns?

Photo of Brad

Hi Niklas

The response towards the plain packing of cigarettes in Australia has been extremely positive and the evidence suggests that it works. Click on the link below if you want a top line over view of how plain packing deters people from smoking:

http://www.cancervic.org.au/plainfacts/browse.asp?ContainerID=plainfacts-evidence

People are only motivated to make a change if there is an incentive to do so!

Photo of OpenIDEO

Hi Brad, interesting post! Any chance you could find an image to go along with it? Images help grab attention and tell a story with higher impact. You should be able to use the Update Entry button on the right of your post and follow the instructions to add images from there. We know occasionally people have issues uploading images so let us know by hitting the Feedback button at the bottom of most pages of our site if you face any problems. Looking forward to seeing more of your inspiring insights on OpenIDEO.

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