Mülltrennung wirkt

Germany sets a course for improving waste separation

In March 2020, a nation-wide consumer awareness campaign was launched by the nine packaging compliance schemes in Germany, including Landbell AG. ‘The nine schemes organize the collection, sorting and recycling of used packaging for the trade and industry sectors in Germany. Every year, they collect approximately 6.2 million tonnes of packaging waste,’ explains Uwe Echteler, Managing Director of Landbell AG in Mainz. A big challenge nowadays is incorrectly separated waste: in many cases, residual waste is disposed of in the yellow bag or the yellow bin which are for plastic packaging only. On average, 30 percent of the content that is collected in the yellow bag and bin doesn’t belong there. In some regions, even 60% of waste is thrown into the wrong container which makes proper recycling very difficult and leads to the loss of valuable materials.

‘Mülltrennung wirkt’ – separation of waste works

Dr Raffaela David, Head of Marketing and PR at Landbell Group, explains the goals of the campaign: ‘All packaging compliance schemes have combined their efforts to launch a campaign that is unprecedented in its size and target audience. We want to help citizens to separate their waste correctly, so that they can actively contribute to environmental and climate protection. That is why the campaign’s claim is ‘Mülltrennung wirkt’, which is German for separation of waste works. To achieve this goal, the campaign focuses on two communication pillars: motivation and information.’

Some people still believe that all waste is incinerated anyway, whether it is sorted or not. To do away with such recycling myths once and for all, the campaign provides facts and figures which prove that the correct separation of waste actually works. With this information, the campaign aims to motivate people to take responsibility and contribute to sustainable resource management. The campaign uses strong, attention-grabbing colours to support its communication goals, and its messages are clear, positive and easy to understand.

A multi-channel approach

To target all generations and ensure that everybody has access to the information provided, the campaign uses a multi-channel approach, including TV, radio, digital (with videos and online banners), a PR campaign that includes advertorials with facts about waste separation, and social media. To make the correct sorting of waste as easy as possible, Facebook and Instagram users can directly ask their questions on the campaign’s accounts. Another core element is the campaign’s website, which has the same eye-catching colours, and where users can download separation charts for glass, cardboard/paper/carton and the yellow bag/bin to help them navigate through the recycling system. By giving clear examples, the charts explain which waste goes into which bin.

To start with a bang, the campaign was launched with a flash mob performance in Berlin. Following the theme ‘We beat the drum for waste separation’, musicians converted yellow bins into drums, enthralling the audience. Influencer Louisa Dellert, who blogs about sustainability and environmental protection, was on site and promoted the event on her Instagram account.

The positive impact of correct waste separation

Scientific results support the campaign’s claim: ‘Studies from the German Institute for Applied Ecology show that the recycling of packaging from the yellow bag and the yellow bin, glass and paper/cardboard/carton saves 3.1 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents every year in Germany. To make this even clearer: this figure is roughly equivalent to the emissions caused by a city like Bonn, with its 318,000 inhabitants, in a whole year. This proves that waste separation really works and pays off for the environment,’ explains Uwe Echteler.

Regarding the challenge of communicating such a wide-ranging topic in the face of a sheer mass of information, Raffaela David points out: ‘Today, it is more important than ever to communicate clear messages with value. In our everyday lives, we’re bombarded with an enormous variety of topics, products, services and channels. So how do we manage to reach out to people and really grab their attention?’

The campaign is a big success. The responses on the various channels are very positive and the message has already reached many people. But, of course, the ‘Mülltrennung wirkt’ campaign can also be supported by the people themselves: everybody can contribute to its success – a success that has an immediate impact on the environment. That’s why the motto is: talk about it, share, comment and like on social media. In that way, we make sure the message is spread and, in no time, convince everyone that waste separation actually works. Let’s go for it!

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