The Millennials – How to promote positive recycling behaviours at work : recycling

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Recent research suggests Millennials‡, of which there are 3.87 million in the UK†, are less likely to recycle than other generations, but more likely to buy from companies that go green.  So, how can businesses leverage ethical beliefs of the ‘young’ generation and inspire them to change their behaviours?

“Millennials Less Likely to Recycle, But More Likely to Buy From Companies that Go Green”

The same research, conducted by The Shelton Group, suggests that Millennials are pushing companies to make a positive impact on the world because they believe global problems are too big for individuals to solve.   Millennials reward corporations who have strong corporate sustainability practices, believing that they take action and address environmental problems for them.

“Millennials see corporations as having the power of many — the ultimate crowd.” Shelton said. “Millennials see spending money with these companies as another form of activism. It’s crowdsourcing by consumerism.”

So, can corporations and companies alike jump on this opportunity to help Millennials do what they think they can’t do for themselves?   Or as Sheldon suggests engage in reverse crowdsourcing.

We believe so.   First, it would help to understand why, despite having views on environmental issues, they lag behind in the league of UK recyclers.  

Data from Recycle For Wales (see image to right) is quite insightful.  Whilst they map data against a wider demographic, the data is still valid for the purposes of understanding why young people are less likely to recycle than other age brackets.   Almost half appear to lack confidence, believing they may not be getting it right.

Educate, Build Confidence, Improve Recycling Behaviours

If we can increase confidence in recycling, improved recycling behaviours will naturally follow.   The best way to build confidence, as with other behaviours, is education.

Any change for the better is good.   Any change that can have a positive and direct impact on your companies Corporate Sustainability goals is even better.   So, here are a few ideas you may wish to consider:

#1 – Millennials seeks social change in their everyday lives

As with charity, can recycling start at home (well, home during working hours – the office, the place of work)?  The issues we face are global, but thinking on a global scale distances us from the real issues we face in the everyday   Bring the fight a little closer to home, to the surrounding community and educate how poor environmental choices of the past affects your local town or city.

#2 – Go Online

Does your business have a social media presence, an intranet which it can leverage as a communications channel?  Use it to promote your Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Corporate Sustainability Goals and let your employees hold you accountable to them.

#3 – Give back the power

Create a CSR ambassador from a number of teams, departments and/or demographics and give them the power to not only act as a conduit between board level management and the wider workforce, but the power to project manage any actions agreed.

#4 – Use Colour

Don’t hide away your recycling efforts – give them colour.   You can opt to use WRAP colours to aid repetitive action (see below) or you can go one step further and go bespoke (see right).   Use colour to signpost correct waste segregation.  The image (see right) shows how a major UK financial brand adopted colour to effectively signpost correct waste segregation at source.

Bespoke Office Recycling Stations

#4 – Use psychology

We recently wrote a blog titled “The psychology of recycling’.  It looks at how we can change a persons actions by changing how they think.  Take a look.

#4 – Use Incentives

If all else fails, entice them with a reward.  You may be familiar with the term reverse vending or deposit return scheme.  What you may not be familiar with is the concept that you can have your own on-site reward system.  

CafeCrush™ is a great example of a scheme you could easily bring into your workplace.  The same height as an average vending machine, it can be programmed (quite easily) to reward whatever fits within your brand ethos.  Some dispense a voucher to redeem against money off next purchase, some provide promotional incentives like 2 for 1 off branded goods whilst others give out a token to confirm the deposited bottle (cup or can) has triggered a donation to the companies nominated charity.  

CafeCrush – Reverse Vending (as used by Coca-Cola)

At Unisan UK, we provide game-changing solutions that enable our customers to rethink their traditional approaches & demonstrate their commitment to environmental sustainability, whilst making recycling easier and more efficient.

‡ https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/survey-millennials-less-likely-to-recycle-but-more-likely-to-buy-from-companies-that-go-green-300522713.htmlWe believe so.   

†  r/https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/bulletins/uklabourmarket/june2018#young-people-in-the-labour-market



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