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Every year, each Victorian generates over 600 kilograms of waste that will go directly to landfill. This waste contains valuable materials that can be recovered and reused.

Recovering these resources instead of sending them to landfill creates economic value for Victoria whilst reducing their environmental impact.

Local governments struggle to kerb contamination in recycling, green waste or general waste bins. They are increasingly growing concerned that the general public and local business don’t understand the importance of waste management. Campaign based educative approaches have been unsuccessful in the past, so there was a pressing need to take a new approach to encourage Victorians to better consider the impact of their waste.


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Sustainability Victoria approached Thick to ideate and prototype waste recovery interventions with local governments, with the view of creating more sustainable Victorian communities. To achieve this we guided a group of local government and industry representatives, along with subject matter experts, through a two-day design forum. This enabled over 60 participants to share their knowledge and explore the tools and methodologies of human centred design.

Each local government faces their own challenges, so each needed to tackle waste recovery interventions differently to respond directly to the needs and behaviours of their constituents. Experts on linguistics, indigenous affairs, ageing populations and sustaining rural workforces were included in the workshops to ensure that councils were considering their citizens’ unique needs during the ideation process.

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During the design forum participants used discovery and ideation methodologies to build out a series of concepts before selecting the best and refining them. This allowed teams to explore new ground and tap into unexplored opportunities. This process was new to many of the participants, so it was critical that we made the design process digestible and supported them throughout.

Following the design forum, Thick supported thirteen local governments who took their interventions into the real world for a three to four month pilot. We supplied a behaviour change framework to help governments measure and evaluate the success of the intervention. Success in this circumstance was not limited to improving resource recovery or reducing contamination but a greater understanding of what works to influence behaviour in their local context.


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As well as delivering actionable interventions the design forum also marked a turning point in the relationship between Sustainability Victoria and local government representatives, demonstrating a new way for both parties to work together and alongside one another. It is the beginning of a best practice approach for engaging with local government representatives.

We are excited to deliver the Resource Recovery Design Forum in partnership with Sustainability Victoria again in 2017.


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