“We are constantly striving to improve the appearance of our streets for residents, visitors and tourists alike, which is a particular challenge during the Festival season. By working with Keep Scotland Beautiful we were able to explore new and innovative ways of encouraging the public to dispose of their rubbish responsibly, helping to create a more tidy and welcoming environment for everyone.” Councillor Lesley Hinds, Environment Convenor, City Of Edinburgh Council
“Education gets to peoples’ attention and conscience.” Local Resident, Grassmarket, Edinburgh
During the festival period, the Grassmarket area of Edinburgh is very busy, attracting visitors and tourists thanks to its vibrant pubs and restaurants, along with those living and working there. As a result, litter is recognised as a key problem by both residents and visitors. This has proved a challenge for civic and business organisations, with the night time economy litter the most difficult to address.
Our people have extensive experience of creating, running and analysing innovative approaches to tackle littering behaviour. We have worked with a range of partners on a variety of projects across Scotland as well as providing education to schools on the damaging effects of litter through our Eco-Schools Scotland programme.
Co-creation: our partners
The Neat Streets concept was originally conceived and tested by our environmental charity partner, Hubbub in London. Hubbub approached us to deliver the Scotland arm of this campaign, recognising that we had the skills and reach required to make impact and enable change.
We then created a strong consortium of industry partners and key stakeholders including the Grassmarket Business Improvement District and Edinburgh City Council. In addition, we secured funding for the campaign from international brands Coco-Cola Enterprises, INCPEN, McDonalds, Costa, Lucozade Ribena Suntory and Veolia as well as from industry associations including British Plastics Federation, the Packaging Federation and Packaging Recycling Group Scotland.
Delivery: Edinburgh Neat Streets
The purpose of the campaign was to reduce litter using a variety of methods, from promoting civic pride to offering easier and interesting ways for people to responsibly dispose of their rubbish.
Using the learning and experience from one of our previous ‘nudge’ campaigns, we developed a series of interventions, each aimed at changing behaviour in a different way. These were supported with awareness raising and promotion techniques.
Phase One focused on increasing civic pride. This was underpinned by a “My Street is Your Street” gallery, a collection of posters featuring local people encouraging neighbours and visitors to take pride in the Grassmarket area. This approach created a personal connection to the litter problem by showing the faces of the people who live in the area.
Phase Two increased the visibility and accessibility of litter bins, making it easy for people to do the right thing. The phase included litter counts and bin sensor information (to see how frequently the bins were emptied) and tested whether the more eye-catching bins affected the amount of litter dropped. The quirky bin designs included cigarette litter ballot bins, concertina ashtrays and colourful bin wraps all aimed at attracting, engaging and delivering an anti-littering message to a younger audience.
Phase Three targeted those in the Grassmarket during the evenings and festival related litter (flyers, programmes and leaflets produced by over 300 venues). We ran a competition for those recycling their festival leaflet through our social media channels, with winners receiving vouchers from local businesses. This phase of the campaign also involved fancy dress bin men encouraging night time visitors and festival revellers to dispose of their litter correctly in exchange for lollipop treats.
At every stage, we supported all interventions with full monitoring and evaluation to assess their effectiveness.
Measurement and impact
Neat Streets has been one of the most successful anti-litter behavioural change campaigns carried out in Scotland.
The visibility of the project through the combined effect of the banners, lamp post wraps, planters and the cigarette bins delivered an immediate, short term impact. 55% of people noticed at least one of the litter interventions, with a 24% increase in awareness of the bins which were made more eye-catching. We removed for recycling over 315kg of festival leaflets, which helped the festival to meet its sustainability targets.
Creating the interventions with our partners and engaging and updating residents and businesses over the duration of the campaign was a key part of the success.
Edinburgh City Council were extremely pleased with the results this campaign achieved and have continued to use and develop the approach as part of their ‘Our Edinburgh’ campaign.