Each year, Northamptonshire generates more than 330,000 tonnes of household waste, costing the county nearly £4m in landfill tax.
EU legislation says that the recycling and composting rates for Northamptonshire's homes must rise from 15 per cent to 27 per cent by 2005. If targets are not met, the government may impose financial penalties on the county.
To avoid this, for the past three years Northamptonshire County Council (NCC) has been involved in the Slim Your Bin campaign, in partnership with local authorities across the Anglia region, to raise awareness of recycling among householders.
The 2002 Slim Your Bin campaign aimed to inform Northamptonshire residents about existing recycling facilities. This was particularly relevant in light of the disparate number of schemes across the county, from doorstep collections to recycling centres.
NCC's long-term aim is to persuade householders to change their behaviour and recycle more waste.
Strategy and Plan
The main thrust of the programme was an intensive week-long radio campaign with BBC Radio Northamptonshire. From 9 September, this included entertaining and educational features backed by a hotline number for further information.
For the reward of a balloon trip, one listener had her bin emptied live on air to see what she could recycle and where. In addition, each day during the week the presenters highlighted ways to make a small difference by recycling.
This activity was supported by a specially produced NCC Slim Your Bin information pack, a road show that toured the county and an exhibition at the three-day Northampton Balloon Festival in August. Meanwhile, a 'Rapping Robot' visited schools to bring the message to children.
Measurement and Evaluation
Over the week, Slim Your Bin on the radio accounted for more than three hours of airtime and an estimated 10,000 listeners to each recycling slot.
More than 7,000 visitors requested information packs at the Balloon Festival, and the road show attracted a further 1,300 visitors.
NCC is currently conducting a telephone survey to gauge brand awareness of Slim Your Bin among householders.
More than 100 listeners called the BBC Radio Northamptonshire information hotline. As a direct result of featuring in the radio campaign, the Northamptonshire Children's Resource Centre, a local community organisation that recycles business waste into art materials for schools, was contacted by five new local businesses and two new schools.
With the constant introduction of new recycling schemes across the county it is difficult to accurately measure exactly how the campaign has influenced the behaviour of householders. This should become more evident when the county's annual waste report is released next summer.