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Using behaviour change approaches to close the say/do gap in recycling

The brief

ReLondon research had identified 18-34 year olds as the least likely age group to recycle in the capital. As part of the London Recycles campaign, ReLondon wanted to understand how to motivate this diverse group towards better recycling behaviours.

The approach

Shift designed an innovative approach drawing on theories from behavioural science and Stern’s Value-Belief-Norm theory, to understand deeper attitudes around environmental topics and young Londoners’ real motivational levers. Face-to-face methods were adapted to telephone interviewing and mobile ethnography to successfully conduct the research during the COVID-19 lockdown.

  • Two-stage hour-long cognitive interviews with 10 young Londoners tested recall of specific waste and recycling behaviours.
  • Motivational nudges tailored to responses from the first interview (including imagery, video and personal associations) were tested over 7 days, before being examined in the second interview.
  • Ethnography was conducted with 30 participants using mobile ethnography platform Indeemo – generating video, vox pops, images and reflections, before follow-up interviews with 15 of these participants to delve deeper into the ethnographic findings.

The value

Shift shared the findings publicly at the behavioural science webinar session held as part of Circular Economy Week in June 2020. A final internal presentation of results provided a forum for discussion of five key themes with the ReLondon team – looking forward to new initiatives and campaign messaging for London Recycles. The final summary report can be downloaded as a PDF from the ReLondon website.