3.1 Research, Segmentation Analysis
Benchmark studies have been conducted annually since 1999. In 2017, a new segmentation analysis was conducted across British Columbia to better understand the scale and behaviour of those who throw refundable beverage containers away in the garbage – Discarders.
In the research study, a Discarder was defined as an adult (Age 15–65) that throws in the garbage, regularly or occasionally, intentionally or unintentionally, any refundable beverage container within the last 12 months. With a sample of over 5,500 participants taking the online survey, there was an incidence of 56% of Discarders as defined above. Based on a 56% incidence of Discarders from the research study, there are a total of 1,740,300 Adult Discarders in the province.
Q1: In the last 12 months, how many times did you throw each type of refundable beverage / drink container in the garbage in your own home? Please give your best guess.
Q2: In the last 12 months, how many times did you throw a refundable beverage / drink container in the garbage when you were outside or away from your home? Please give your best guess.
To validate Discarder behaviour, an analysis was completed to project out the self-reported volume of containers thrown away to the actual quantity of unrecovered containers.
|Total Projected (self-reported)
Containers Thrown Away
|Total Actual Containers
When further segmentation is applied to people who throw refundable beverage containers in the garbage, five distinct segments are identified differing in behaviour, size of segment and quantity of containers thrown away.
3.2 Consumer Awareness
Support for the Return-It program continues through various advertising mediums, helping to maintain the 99% program awareness level. Where possible, our efforts focused on having contextual messaging—serving up the right message when it was relevant and meaningful. Targeted media such as television, radio, out of home, digital and social media were purchased.
- TV & Radio
We use television to reach a broad mass audience across the province and maintain a strong level of awareness with consumers. In 2017 we created a new 30 second spot featuring the collective grumpiness of the puppets. The spot reminded viewers of the many depot locations across the province and the importance of recycling.
See more current commercials
Our radio campaign featured our puppets using their unique personalities to remind people of the 3 Rs: “React to non-recyclers by ROLLING your eyes, RAISING your eyebrows and REMINDING them to Return-It.” In 2017, to extend the reach of the spots, ads were purchased on the popular music streaming service Spotify.
See more radio spots
- Cineplex Pre-show, Timeplay & Fresh Air Cinema
To get consumers in the habit of recycling their beverage containers, we set up a fun virtual “gamification” experience with Cineplex using their TimePlay program. Our TV ads also ran prior to movies at both Cineplex theatres and the outdoor Fresh Air Cinema events that took place in summer months.
- Out of Home
Exterior bus wraps were an important way to reinforce consumer awareness in targeted communities. We also used targeted transit shelter ads to call out the fact that a Return-It bin was located nearby.
- Consumer Brochures
Each year, we print a detailed consumer brochure that provides an overview of the Return-It system: what it is, how it works, and how it’s making a difference.
- Advertorials and Special Coverage
We place advertorials in various newspapers and magazines throughout the province. These help to highlight key statistics and recovery trends, and provide information about specific recycling programs we’re running. We also share relevant community information through our public platforms to local media outlets, stewards, and influencers to help spread the word.
- Return-It.ca and Return-It Blog
The website and blog give consumers a quick and convenient place to find important information such as depot locations and the latest recycling news. Visit: return-it.ca/blog
- Corporate Videos
Corporate videos were used to further educate consumers about the recycling process for the various types of beverage containers.
See more corporate videos
- Special Focus: Underperforming Containers
Four animated information videos and targeted social media posts were promoted in order to provide an extra marketing “boost” to underperforming container types such as drink pouches and bi-metal cans.
See more informational videos
We continue to use social media as support for our outreach programs and to raise awareness about the recycling of specific containers. The “Return-It Gang” puppets provide a voice and personality that is well-suited to social media, allowing us to engage our audience in a lighthearted, slightly “cheeky” tone and at the same time we communicate our serious message about beverage recycling.
- Annual Report
The annual report provides a comprehensive overview of Encorp Pacific operations. It is available on our website for online viewing, and also as a downloadable PDF.
- Digital Ads
We know our target audience spends a lot of time online. We developed an online ad campaign to reach them where and when they surfed the internet. Our Contobox (Content Box) was a mini microsite that delivered an educational experience, while our mobile ads served highly contextual messages that aligned with the actions of our target.
- Outdoor Advertising & Mainstream Media Effectiveness Test
Through July and August we conducted the second year of a media effectiveness test pilot in Surrey. We purchased most of the local advertising spaces (transit shelters; billboards; posters in and around Skytrain stations; etc.) and used them to promote all 13 Surrey Return-It depots. In 2016, recovery volume increased in participating depots by 12.2%, in 2017 recovery volume increased by 7.4%.
- SmartMoves Direct Mail
We targeted Surrey, Langley, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Burnaby, and Aldergrove through a Canada Post program called SmartMoves to ensure new residents knew the location of their local Return-It depot. The program helped deliver a direct mail piece to everyone who had recently moved into these communities. On the card: a map to their local depot along with a coupon redeemable for a durable, reusable recycling bag to hold their empty beverage containers. During the redemption period, participating depots had over 600 brand new households visit their depots to recycle beverage containers.
3.3 Recycling Programs and Initiatives
Over 1 billion containers were kept out of landfills in the past year. The majority of beverage containers sold in B.C. were recovered and recycled through the Return-It depot network and mobile collectors across the province. There’s always room for improvement, that’s why Encorp continues to run pilot initiatives and annual specialty programs to increase the recovery and recycling of beverage containers.
- Return-It to Win-It
To help drive visits to Return-It depots, an annual consumer contest was implemented across B.C. To build on the success of last year’s contest, we improved the prize structure so that more prizes could be available for customers to win. Customers had a chance to instantly win gift card prizes and also enter into the grand prize draw of $25,000 cash.
- Return-It Express
The expansion of the Return-It Express program continues to provide consumers with an easy and convenient way to recycle beverage containers. There are currently 20 depots that operate the Return-It Express program with over 11,000 registered users. In 2017 we leveraged social media and influencers to help spread the word about the ease and convenience of Express.
- Return-It School
Since 2000, elementary and high schools across B.C. have had the opportunity to promote recycling and environmental stewardship via our school program, Return-It School. In 2017 we overhauled the program, introducing a new theme, storytelling contest and school presentation to make learning about recycling fun for students.
- Ambassador Team
This year we updated the look and theme of our ambassador team and introduced the Recycling 101 Ambassadors. They are a team of super smart “recycling scientists” that use their expert knowledge to teach kids and parents the basic “101” of recycling. The team attended 95 community events throughout 2017.
- B.C. Parks & Municipal Outdoor Spaces
B.C. parks and other municipal spaces that attract large amounts of pedestrian traffic continue to be a focus. The success of the program is contingent on being able to work closely with the different regional and municipal districts and B.C. Ministry of Forests, Land and Natural Resource Operations. There are well over 2,000 dedicated beverage container recycling bins for use throughout B.C.
- Industrial, Commercial & Institutional Sector (IC&I)
Many containers not being collected through the Return-It system are discarded within the IC&I sector, primarily at large-scale venues with a high concentration of people. We’ve partnered with institutions like the Sea to Sky Gondola, Nat Bailey Stadium, Cypress and Seymour Mountain to either provide or improve upon their existing recycling programs.
- Multifamily Action Team
The team continues to target multifamily buildings through grassroots marketing. Face-to-face meetings with strata and building managers allowed our team to install collection bins, post signage and distribute tenant information to increase beverage recycling within buildings. In 2017, we added 22 large multifamily buildings to the program spanning across the Lower Mainland, Victoria and even Squamish. The program serves more than 10,000 dwellings throughout B.C.
- Independent Return-It Depots Marketing and Promotion Commitments
Return-It depots submit their intended Marketing & Promotional Plans to Encorp. Combined, the investments from depots, if fulfilled, would add approximately $1.4 million in additional advertising spending. There were 161 plans submitted in 2017.
- Stewardship Agencies of BC (SABC)
In 2017, Encorp’s Recycling 101 Ambassadors created a brand presence for BC Recycles at various events, helping to promote extended producer responsibility.
- Corus Partnership
To help raise awareness and profile of the important work that Encorp is doing, we partnered with Corus Entertainment to leverage their broadcast media and credibility. Through PSAs and interviews with subject matter experts Scott Fraser and Craig Wisehart, Lynda Steele helped to explain who Encorp is, the environmental impacts of recycling, and answer any misconceptions consumers may have about beverage and electronic recycling.
- Waste Reduction Week
To support the Recycling Council of BC’s (RCBC) Waste Reduction Week efforts, we aligned our Corus media partnership and social media posts during this timeframe.
- Carton Council
In partnership with the Carton Council, four posts were created and shared across social media. The posts helped customers better understand what types of cartons were recyclable and the deposit that each container carries.
- Science World
Return-It is a presenting sponsor of the BC Green Games. The Green Games is Science World’s digital eco-storytelling contest that supports B.C. teachers and promotes place-based environmental education. This project-style, inquirybased program is a 21st century learning opportunity in scientific exploration, storytelling, media arts and advocacy. Return-It is proud to offer the Return-It Trip, a travel bursary prize for schools outside the Lower Mainland that help fund field trip-related travel. bcgreengames.ca