Behavioural science review of efforts to maximise participation in WA containers for change program

Western Australia Return Recycle Renew Limited (WARRRL) is the Coordinator of the Western Australian container deposit scheme, Containers for Change. A core objective of the container deposit scheme is to "increase recovery and recycling of empty beverage containers", including a target of 85% redemption rate for eligible containers.

WARRRL engaged BehaviourWorks Australia to conduct a behavioural review of their overall program of work to date, to identify and validate current strengths of the approach, and to identify opportunities to refine and extend behaviour change efforts to increase current redemption rates.

What did we do?

We undertook two parallel processes - a top-down program review and abottom-up behavioural science hackathon. The top-down process involved a review of strategy and program documentation and interviews with key executives inorder to understand WARRRL's goals, approaches and achievements.

The bottom-up process involved a separate group of BehaviourWorks Australia staff, who leveraged behavioural science principles to identify key behavioural needs of WARRRL and the container deposit scheme, and potential interventions to address those behavioural needs. We then compared the results of the two processes, looking for:

  1. key behaviour change strengths, indicated by clear alignment between the needs identified by BehaviourWorks Australia and those recognised and addressed by WARRRL
  2. opportunities to refine or enhance existing and/or proposed behaviour change initiatives
  3. gaps between the needs identified by BehaviourWorks Australia and those being addressed by WARRRL, indicating new behaviour change initiatives to be considered
The challenge:
Improving WARRRL's ability to increase participation in the WA container deposit scheme to recover 85% of eligible containers
Western Australia Return Recycle Renew Limited (WARRRL)

What did we find?

Our review found extensive areas of alignment - key behaviour change strengths - between the behaviour change needs identified by BehaviourWorks Australia and those recognised and being addressed by WARRRL.

Overall, we found that WARRRL have leveraged some key behavioural science principles - such as ability and motivation - in developing their container deposit scheme implementation strategy. This has enabled capture of most "low hanging fruit" - that is, people are participating in the container deposit scheme when there is easy access (ability) and/or existing motivations to activate. Those who are not currently participating represent the harder-to-reach and/or harder-to-convert audiences and contexts, which are likely to require a more refined and consolidated approach to overcome barriers to participation.

We identified a number of opportunities to refine or enhance processes, interventions or plans to target those harder-to-reach audiences and contexts (below). Importantly, there were no obvious gaps (i.e. no new behaviour change initiatives were needed).

Some of the opportunities we identified to consolidate and refine behaviour change efforts included:

  1. Adopting a more formal and comprehensive behavioural science process to optimise interventions.
  2. Using a behavioural science framework to clearly articulate the key audiences, and the behaviours desired of each of audience.
  3. Conduct behavioural journey mapping to understand and improve consumer experiences when returning containers to return points.
  4. Conduct research to better understand specific audience segments, and the specific behavioural drivers and barriers for container deposit scheme participation for those segments.

What's next?

We are now working with WARRRL to develop a tailored behavioural science framework to embed into their internal operations and external marketing and behaviour change efforts, and have entered into a three year partnership to provide ongoing behavioural science support to their efforts to maximise participation in the WA Container for Change deposit scheme.

As part of this partnership, WARRRL will receive access to a behavioural science 'researcher-in-residence' who will use their in-depth engagement with WARRRL over the next 3 years to provide tailored advice and research services.

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