In Denmark, we have a return system that allows you to get a refund by returning empty bottles and cans at recycling machines all around Denmark. This is handled by Dansk Retursystem. This non-profit has the declared goal of collecting all bottles and cans, saving the environment from the production of new ones and unnecessary CO2 emissions.
The problem is that people largely find it inconvenient and time consuming to return empty bottles and cans at the recycling machines. Thus, in a country with only 5.7 million inhabitants, 140 million cans and bottles aren't recycled every year.
Dansk Retursystem found that one of the main reasons for this was that people didn’t think about the environmental effect that a single plastic bottle can have.
The brief was to remind the Danes of the environmental benefits of recycling, and make people want to return them at the recycling machine.
The creative idea
To get the Danes to recycle every last bottle, Dansk Retursystem launched 'The National Recycling Game'. A nationwide game that turned every single bottle and can in the country into a lottery ticket - each with the potential to make you a winner. Over a period of one and a half months everyone who recycled at their local recycling machines, was an automatic participant in the game and had the chance to win eco-friendly prizes ranging from bikes and experiences to even an electric car.
The strategy for the campaign was twofold. Firstly, the campaign should increase intend to recycle among Danes by sparking engagement in the importance of recycling. Secondly, the campaign was also aimed at improving the brand perception of Dansk Retursystem positioning them as one of Denmark’s opinion leaders within the field of climate, environment and circular economy.
The target audience was all adult Danes - 4.6 million to be exact. A broad target group diverse in nature, the Danes recycle for various reasons; some do it to help the environment, some are more driven by the practical aspects and money deposit they get in return. No matter the behavioural drivers, the campaign had to appeal to all users of the Danish return system.
So instead of simply launching a video-led campaign, we created a national event across 3000 recycling machines that would turn recycling into a game not to be missed.
The campaign launched on nation-wide social media, TV, online platforms and at all recycling machines around the country, promoting the new game. On social media, the campaign focused on the environmental benefits of recycling, as live A/B tests showed that this was the platform with the highest density of Danes concerned about climate change. Meanwhile, traditional platforms such as TV focused on promoting the recycling game and prizes. Consequently, the campaign reached different target groups with the message that would engage them the most.