Research and evaluation

Campaign research confirms that public education programmes can influence public attitudes and behaviour - to some extent.

The pilot has proven that regional councils and the Ministry for the Environment can work together with local government, and the business community, to raise public awareness and influence behaviour.

There was a strong correlation between media activities and respondents’ awareness, attitudes and behaviour. The results confirm the need to use a variety of media activities, ideally over a longer period of time.

The regional variation in the effectiveness of the campaign, and the survey of participating councils, shows that a nationally coordinated public education programme would provide a much more cost-effective approach to influencing the public.

Nationwide awareness of advertising about the rubbish issue was 42% (A potential audience of more than 500,000 households). 28% said that they had seen or heard something specifically about the ‘‘Reduce Your Rubbish’’ campaign.

The campaign may have influenced the awareness, attitudes and behaviour of up to 800,000 New Zealanders:

  • 10% say it reinforced their attitude
  • 7% think it increased their awareness
  • 2% say it improved or changed their behaviour
  • another 1% stating it changed their attitude.

These figures are very high, given the low level of advertising spend, and the competition for public attention provided by the power crisis and the $1.5 million Target 10% campaign.

These results reflect both the quality and effectiveness of the advertising and the process of working together with the Ministry and territorial local authorities to target the public at a national, regional and local level.

Those who did recall some sort of advertising felt the main message was to increase recycling (59%). Importance of reducing the amount of rubbish dropped slightly during the campaign, with 58% of respondents saying it’s a major issue for them, compared to 61% in the benchmark. The number of people saying they do a lot to reduce rubbish also declined from 44 to 41%.

Similar trends were recorded with the introduction of ‘The Big Clean Up’ and may reflect a re-evaluation of individual attitudes as a result of the campaign.

What effect did we really have on reducing rubbish?

The lack of consistent monitoring information means it is difficult to quantify the impact that the campaign had on reducing the amount of household rubbish (both green waste and recyclables) sent to landfill.

Kerbside recycling operators report un-seasonal increases in the amount of recyclable material collected during June 2003. Although most reports were anecdotal, actual figures vary from increases of 11% in South Canterbury, to 22% in New Plymouth. A 10% national increase would result in 6000 tonnes per month of material diverted from landfill.

Providing a process for learning and improvement

The campaign has enabled us to develop a range of communications tools, such as the TV commercials, that may be used again at a regional level or in future national campaigns. The website will continue to provide a useful resource for householders and communities throughout New Zealand.

The campaign process, and research programme, has also identified areas where we can greatly improve our performance in planning and implementing any future campaigns

Because of the success of the ‘Reduce Your Rubbish’ campaign a Steering Group, consisting of representatives from regional councils and the Ministry for the Environment, will be formed to discuss a long-term national approach to national public awareness and education.

Last updated: 5 July 2007