Prioritising behaviours and co-designing interventions for Responsible Consumption

Lifestyles of affluent populations are a significant driver of the unsustainable impacts of economic development. Behavioural public policy could help reduce these impacts by encouraging responsible consumption in order to reduce Australia’s material footprint.

In 2020, the BehaviourWorks Australia consortium partners decided to take a collaborative missions-based approach to design (and trial) behaviour change interventions which promote responsible consumption in Australia. Read more about this missions-based approach.

In order to design effective behaviour change interventions, it was important to first identify and prioritise behaviour change challenges related to responsible consumption. It was also important engage a wide variety of stakeholders with expertise and experience in material resource consumption and waste prevention. This approach ensured that the target behaviour(s) and intervention(s) would be impactful and pragmatic.

The challenge:
To identify priority behaviour change challenges related to responsible consumption and collaboratively design one or more behaviour change interventions.
DCCEEW, DEECA, Sustainability Victoria, The Shannon Company

What we did:

Between June and September  2021, multiple stakeholder engagement activities were undertaken to identify and prioritise relevant behaviours related to three priority material streams (fashion and textiles; electronics and electrical devices; and furniture and large household items). These materials were prioritised due to a lack of existing research, compared to other materials such as packaging and food. They also represented material streams with multiple opportunities for behavioural uptake across an item’s lifecycle - including design, sale/purchase, reuse, and repair. 

The stakeholder engagement activities included four workshops, supplemented by an online survey, to generate a long list of behaviour change challenges. There was also a large prioritisation summit to reduce the 'long list' to a 'short list' of priority challenges, where each behaviour was rated against a set of prioritisation criteria.

As part of the Between November 2021 and March 2022, four co-design workshops were then completed with internal and external stakeholders. The aims of these workshops were to: 

  1. Explore what is known and not-known about the target behaviours and audiences;
  2. Refine the target behaviours and identify the behavioural research needs to support the intervention co-design process;
  3. Collaboratively design behaviour change interventions that target the key behavioural drivers and barriers identified in the supporting research; and
  4. Prioritise interventions, identify implementation partners, and develop implementation plans.

What we learnt:

Working collaboratively to identify, prioritise and address behaviour change challenges is an important first step for designing effective behaviour change interventions. 

By drawing from a large pool of expert stakeholders, we identified 84 behaviour change challenges related to responsible consumption in Australia. 

The summit ratings helped to identify three ‘behavioural packages’ for intervention co-design. The behaviours were primarily related to reuse of household items (i.e. purchasing secondhand items and donating/selling used goods). The three behaviour packages were taken into the co-design workshops which resulted in 9 potential interventions to trial.

For detailed outcomes of this project see Project Results & Downloads.

What's next:

The proposed interventions were further investigated for feasibility, compared to the initial goals/objectives of the program, and then prioritised by BWA partners. 

After discussions with potential delivery partners, a multi-faceted trial with Salvos Stores was agreed upon. The trial involved investigating how transforming second-hand stores could increase purchase of second-hand fashion and furniture, and potentially also increase the quality of donations received.

The summit ratings are also being used to produce a “Behavioural Roadmap to Responsible Consumption”. The roadmap will outline all the behaviours that need to be widely adopted to achieve responsible consumption. The roadmap is intended to provide a clear agenda and guidance to all of Australia's relevant stakeholders across the public, private and civil sectors.

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