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Recycling campaign shows second life of products

Grocery retailer and food manufacturers help fund non-profit organization

A British Columbia recycling organization is trying a friendly, more practical approach to persuade people to sort their paper, cans and plastics. Instead of nagging citizens to recycle to help save the planet, Multi-Material BC (MMBC) has launched a campaign showing what consumer goods are generated from reused cans and bottles. For instance, the print and digital work created by Toronto-based agency Elemental shows that park benches and fleece jackets can be made from recycled bottles, while steel can go into making household appliances. The creative is based on the concept that recycling offers a useful “second life” for the products people use on a regular basis. It’s a public awareness campaign that reminds consumers about the benefits they get from taking some extra time to sort their garbage, says Brent Wardrop, partner and creative director at Elemental. “MMBC wanted to address recycling in B.C., but find a new and innovative way to make it top of mind,” says Wardrop of the client’s request for the campaign being rolled out in the province this spring and summer. MMBC is a non-profit organization geared towards managing residential recycling programs across parts of the province. Its board of directors is composed of execs from grocery retailers and food manufacturers including Unilever's John Coyne and Robert Chant of Loblaw. Representatives from Coca Cola, Procter & Gamble, Walmart, Federated Co-op, Overwaitea Food Group and Nestle Canada also sit on the board. The MMBC's members include retailers, restaurants, manufacturers and distributors that supply packaging, as well as financial services companies that churn out paper statements and other materials to consumers. “The real insight in the whole campaign started with the understanding that the ‘recycling to save the planet message’ is a bit tired,” adds Wardrop. “We gave credit to the consumer being smart, by not going to the ‘save the world’ story.” The campaign was instead focused on educating consumers about what happens to cans and bottles after they’re tossed in the recycling bin. “Who hasn’t ever wondered: ‘What happens to those soup cans? What could they ever be used for?’” says Wardrop. “The truth is a remarkable volume of things.” The MMBC campaign includes print and digital advertising as well as a radio spot featuring a palm teller looking into a woman’s past, declaring that her jacket was once dozens of plastics bottles. It ends with the line, “Give your recycling a second life.” This latest campaign follows one Elemental did for MMBC last year with slogan, “Same Bin, New Tricks,” which promoted new items that could be recycled, such as milk cartons, plant pots and aluminum foil packaging. Wardrop said the 2014 BC Recycling campaign was recently awarded gold from the Communicator Awards in the Humourous Commercial category, and silver in the radio/creative concept category. This article first appeared on

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