Stories that best exemplify the waste collaboration's impact

How did we create an impact?

Stories that best exemplify the waste collaboration's impact

Impact stories highlight how a program can make real-world contributions and influence real-world achievements. The two stories highlighted below were chosen out of 14 submissions as best exemplifying the impact of the Waste and Circular Economy Collaboration.

Stories that best exemplify the waste collaboration's impact

Impact stories highlight how a program can make real-world contributions and influence real-world achievements. The two stories highlighted below were chosen out of 14 submissions as best exemplifying the impact of the Waste and Circular Economy Collaboration:

  1. The Product Stewardship voluntary accreditation program logo
  2. Circular Stories

These 'impact stories' were identified and prioritised at our final steering committee meeting in March 2021 with the BWA Advisory Board and the entire consortium.

How did we measure impact through the collaboration?

When we began to develop the collaboration in a co-design workshop in November 2018, it quickly became apparent we wanted to do more than find effective behaviour change interventions. By July 2019 this intent crystallised into the below guiding theory of change for the program:

Our guiding theory of change: progress through foundations to impact (left); and how each stage is measured (right)
  • FOUNDATIONS: We developed a strong foundation of collaboration and capacity building by prioritising creating a welcoming platform;
  • NEW UNDERSTANDING: thus, increased the chances of successfully identifying behaviours important in pressing policy and practice challenges in waste and circular economy, and finding out how to change them through the cultivation of new understands;
  • CLEAR EVIDENCE: which, because projects are co-designed and co-produced to reflect the needs of priority stakeholders in our partner organisations and trial partners, will lead to actionable insights and clear evidence of appropriate next steps;
  • FUTURE ADVANCES: thereby producing insights for future advances and increasing the chances of supporting social innovation that can be built on our work;  
  • IMPACT: that goes towards our ultimate intended impact of contributing to increasing the circularity of the Australian (and global) economy.

Our evaluation approach recognises that the further along that chain we go, the less in our control each level of outcomes and impact is, but also the more significant it is. It also recognises that our opportunities to pre-specify and rigorously measure different changes resulting from our work diminish along the same spectrum. An important tool for measuring outcomes and impacts higher up the spectrum that reflects these considerations is our use of 'impact stories' (combining 'Contribution Analysis' with 'Most Significant Change' techniques).

The Product Stewardship voluntary accreditation program logo

The Waste and Circular Economy Collaboration were in the right place, at the right time, to help apply research findings to policy recommendations.

The Waste Implementation team within the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment recently designed a new 'Product Stewardship Voluntary Accreditation Program Logo' with advice from the Waste and Circular Economy Collaboration.

Creating the product stewardship voluntary accreditation program logo

Product stewardship is a way to manage the impacts that different products and materials may have on the environment. Schemes can range from voluntary, co-regulatory and mandatory, but many voluntary programs have not been accredited by the Australian Government. DAWE's Waste Implementation Unit was responsible for developing a new 'Product Stewardship Voluntary Accreditation Program Logo' that would signify to consumers that schemes have been accredited by the Australian Government.

Accreditation indicates that programs are effectively working to the highest environmental standards and are committed to achieving the best recycling outcomes. A meaningful logo helps to build trust between schemes and consumers and confirms that products are being appropriately recycled.  

Outcomes of the collaboration

During the development phase, X was at the “right meeting at the right time” and indicated that it would be beneficial to consult with research to design a logo that would resonate with consumers. X’s personal interest in behavioural insights and background in social marketing initiated a keen interest to collaborate with BehaviourWorks Australia (BWA). In September, the team worked with BWA to discuss how behavioural insights and scientific evidence could potentially inform an improved design process.

This partnership influenced two distinct outcomes:

  1. The design of a new Product Stewardship Voluntary Accreditation Program Logo based on evidence and collaborative research;
  2. A shift in the team’s perspective about the value of behavioural and academic research for informing project work.

Why this outcome is important

Designing an evidence-based logo contributes to a sense of trust between The Government and Australians, and also helps to raise a profile for product stewardship within Australia. This is important because product stewardship schemes promote positive recycling behaviours and an awareness about waste management, which is a significant step in the right direction to achieving the goals of the National Waste Policy, and ultimately a circular economy.

Circular Stories

Our trial intervention using the Circular Strategies workshop series successfully lead to a follow-on collaboration: a working group for textiles, clothing, and footwear in Australia for the Circular Economy.

Adopting circular economy practices in Australian businesses

Our research on businesses' tendency to adopt circular economy (CE) practices found that “soft” cultural barriers, such as perceived demand, organisational inertia, and lack of collaborative capacity, were greater barriers for Australian businesses to adopt CE practices than "hard" barriers like regulation or technology. We also found that adopting many CE practices first requires a significant change in surrounding business models and ecosystems, so working to change behaviour of individual businesses alone was insufficient to achieve a successful transition to adopting CE practices.

MSDI’s existing collaboration in circular fashion and textiles provided a sandbox (experimental arena) to tackle the problem: How can we bring industry ecosystem members together to work on a shared pilot project for CE adoption?

We conducted an evidence-based workshop series (“Circular Strategies” or see extra resources) to support organisational behaviour change and collaboration in the Australian textile, clothing and footwear ecosystem.

Designers, manufacturers, retailers, policy actors, peak bodies, and recyclers attended a series of three workshop sessions to:

  1. Learn about each others’ CE experience and identify a shared challenge
  2. Explore potential product, business model and ecosystem innovations using the Circularity Deck
  3. Map commitment and resources from members for sustained collaboration
  4. Plan out the concrete actions needed to start a pilot innovation project

Outcomes of the workshop series

The successful working group created "Circular Stories", which describes how different garments and textiles can be designed, manufactured, sold, and managed at end-of-life in a circular system.

Why this outcome is important

This demonstrates to other relevant stakeholders that there is potential for embedding CE practices into their business processes. This is a significant step in the right direction to achieving an overall circular economy in Australia. Ultimately, this project has led to a practice change in external organisations to BehaviourWorks Australia (BWA) and may lead to policy development in the future.

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