Using Behaviour Change Nudges to Reduce Recycling Contamination

23 November 2023



New Waste Wizard feature: Featured Searches

Ever since the nudge concept was popularised by Thaler and Sunstein in their 2008 book Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness, the idea of choice architecture has become widespread across both government and business as a way to influence people’s behaviour.

From ecommerce websites to video sharing and social media platforms, we are used to seeing items or content recommended to us by organisations. But, how can local authorities use choice architecture to reduce instances of recycling contamination by their well-intentioned residents.

Our Waste Wizard web tool and app, which helps citizens identify how to correctly dispose of a waste item, has always presented a list of popular searches to users to make it easier for them to find items that many other recyclers are struggling with (think nappies, food waste and textiles). It’s a popular feature that delivers great results.

But at certain times it may be that you want to raise the profile of a specific item that users are likely to be searching for, but that may not be what appears among the most popular searches.

Which is where our new Featured Searches capability comes into its own.

This feature allows administrators to configure the item list shown to users in our Waste Wizard tool. Items can be quickly and easily added to the list of suggestions for as long or short a time period as required.

Some good examples of Featured Searches might be Christmas trees in January, wrapping paper and batteries around Christmas, or foil and sweet wrappers at Easter. And while hopefully we won’t experience another pandemic for a long time, highlighting PPE and health test equipment would be another great use case for our Featured Searches capability.

With an image of the item there for users to see as well, Featured Searches is a great way to raise the profile of problem items to residents and help reduce recycling contamination and instances of wishcycling.

And of course, configured materials can be reverted back to a top searched material with the click of a button. This helps users make the change back to top searched materials once a season or theme is over.

For more information about the Waste Wizard and our other digital citizen communication tools and apps see here, or contact us to set up a quick conversation.


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