CAMPAIGN: Surrey council works to reduce household waste

The county of Surrey produces 600,000 tonnes of household waste per year, the majority of which is sent to landfill sites. Not only is this policy environmentally damaging, but Surrey is also fast running out of available landfill sites.

Campaign Joint waste strategy
Client Surrey County Council
PR team In-house
Timescale January – November 2006
Budget £20,000

So last year the council pledged to reduce county waste, increase recycling to 60 per cent by 2025, improve recycling collection services and deal with the remaining waste that cannot be recycled via two potentially controversial Energy from Waste (EfW) plants.

To raise public awareness of Surrey’s waste issues and encourage the public to take action by reducing waste, reusing and recycling. To demonstrate that feedback has influenced strategy development. To shift editorial focus from EfW to waste reduction and recycling.

Strategy and plan
Seizing on the environmental news agenda, the council’s press team news focused on waste reduction and recycling to counteract negative perceptions of EfW plants.

Work with the council’s waste contractor took place to ensure communications by both parties were joined up and effective on EfW and around one potential application for a local plant.

Nearly 30 press releases, eight press statements, two media bulletins and nine interviews later, the story was out. A website was created and press releases were posted on the homepage. More than 20 ‘Stop Press’ items were posted on the council intranet, and a feature ran in staff magazine Jigsaw. The ‘waste reduction roadshow’ was launched at the Surrey County Show in May, and residents were targeted via 23 supermarket events. The public were asked to make a waste minimisation pledge.

Measurement and Evaluation
Nearly 200 media items were generated with the bulk of these appearing in Surrey’s targeted regional and local newspapers, including the Surrey ­Advertiser, Surrey Mirror, Dorking Advertiser, Leatherhead Advertiser and Surrey Herald.

More than 25 local radio broadcasts ran, 19 of which were generated from Waste Week with BBC Southern Counties. One TV broadcast ran on the BBC’s Politics Show with the council’s key spokesperson.

The majority of coverage was good, with 22.5 million positive ­opportunities to see. Only a tenth of the coverage was negative.

The council’s main spokesperson was associated with 61 per cent of all positive coverage.

The roadshow reached an estimated audience of 270,000. Since the campaign began, household waste has dropped by two per cent.

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