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The UK public are being urged to Rethink their Rubbish as part of a major new campaign launched today by environmen...
The UK public are being urged to Rethink their Rubbish as part of a major new campaign launched today by environment minister Michael Meacher.

Endorsed by the government and the British Retail Consortium the Rethink Rubbish campaign is the UK's first independent 'umbrella' consumer waste awareness initiative, uniting local authorities, leading retailers (ASDA, B&Q, Boots, Budgens, Co-operative Group, Focus Wickes Ltd, Halfords, Safeway, Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose) and the waste management sector to deliver a high profile and integrated national campaign to persuade customers to try and reduce their rubbish and get into the recycling habit.

Mr Meacher said: 'The Rethink Rubbish campaign will play a vital role in the drive to raise public awareness about rubbish and how to deal with it in a more sustainable way. This is key to achieving the move to the more sustained use of our resources that we are all working towards and clearly demonstrates the benefits of a consistent and integrated approach to the issue across government, business and the waste management industry, to work at national and local level.'

Organised by the National Waste Awareness Initiative (NWAI) and backed by extensive research* into public attitudes towards rubbish and recycling in the UK, the Rethink Rubbish campaign reflects consumer demand for a consistent and integrated campaign, while recognising that the support of business and the waste management industry is vital in the quest to raise levels of consumer awareness and convert motivation into action at a local level.

High profile patrons have lent their support to Rethink Rubbish, including Graham Norton, Alistair McGowan, Anthea Turner, Fiona Phillips and Bobby Robson, who will help to encourage consumers to make small lifestyle changes as part of regular shopping, work or household routines to make a real difference to the amount of rubbish thrown away.

Rethink Rubbish campaign highlights:

- Local authority support: Rethink Rubbish branded campaigns are being developed with three regional local authority partnerships and 15 individual councils to date have signed up to use the Rethink Rubbish branding.

- Campaign Image: A series of high impact campaign images (available on request) based on research findings will appear on a range of publicity and retailer material, to challenge consumer preconceptions about rubbish being of no use, and to clearly demonstrate the potential for recycling to produce new products.

- Roadshow: an interactive roadshow (see enclosed) will visit 22 towns and cities throughout the UK in June/July 2002 targeting one million consumers with hard-hitting campaign messages. The centrepiece of the roadshow is a giant street-legal motorised dustbin (3 metres high and 2.3 metres wide).

- Retailer support: (More detailed information available on request)

- Website: A campaign website- has been launched providing a wide range of information, including a national recycling bank locator to enable consumers to find their nearest recycling facilities

NWAI chair said: 'Recycling is not new and rubbish is not interesting. The challenge is to address these issues through an umbrella campaign with a fresh, innovative approach that spans a wide range of applications to motivate consumers and potential third parties to significantly move the pace of waste awareness forward.

'There has long been a need for a clear, consistent national waste awareness campaign and Rethink Rubbish gives retailers, local authorities and the waste sector a great opportunity to get involved. It will help raise the profile of on-going

activities and provide the impetus to create specific local and waste sector

campaigns, while benefiting from an increase in awareness of the issues to ultimately get the public to do more.'

The government's Waste Strategy targets a 25% UK recycling rate for household rubbish by 2005 and with the current rate at 11%, it is hoped that the Rethink Rubbish campaign will help to provide an effective campaign platform to significantly raise public awareness of the issues and drive positive action.

First UK Retailers Sign Up to Rethink Rubbish:

Backed by the British Retail Consortium as part of its sustainability strategy, 12 leading UK retailers - ASDA, B&Q, Boots, Budgens, Co-operative Group, Focus Wickes Ltd (including Focus DIY and Wickes Home Improvement), Halfords, Safeway, Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose - are the first official retail partners to sign up to help spearhead the Rethink Rubbish campaign. Their combined involvement will significantly contribute to the impact the campaign has on consumers through, for example, point-of-sale and in-store campaign messages.

Jeremy Beadles, director of environment, property and transport policy at the British Retail Consortium said: 'Retailers have a key role to play in helping to ensure the success of the Rethink Rubbish campaign. They are uniquely placed to help deliver campaign messages and make a strong call to action to their consumers.'


*Funded by ESART (Environmental Services Association Research Trust) the research involved 24 focus groups across the UK to assess public perception of waste and the response to various ways in which to promote it. The full results 'Rethinking Rubbish - towards a new campaign' are available at

**The NWAI's core funding comes from Biffaward, CSS (County Surveyors Society), Arcadia, Valpak and DEFRA.

***The National Waste Awareness Initiative is being co-ordinated by national charity, Waste Watch, and environmental company, SWAP (Save Waste and Prosper).

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