BEHAVIORAL CHALLENGE: Reduce the number of cigarette butts at tram stops
In the city of Gothenburg, cigarette butts account for 70% of all litter. It’s a littering problem that needs to be solved and, if it is, the total littering will decrease enormously. Göteborgs Stad asked us to give it all we got.
A specific area was selected in which the littering of cigarette butts was meant to stop. But where would the littering go? When putting out a cigarette, the preferred place to throw it away is of course in an ashtray. Yet, not so many are being used. So the aim was clear - to redirect the cigarette butts from the ground to the ashtrays. At eight central tram stops in Gothenburg, we tried out a couple of different nudges and measured the results to find the concept that worked best.
SMART NUDGE: Colorful ashtrays and signs with the typical Gothenburg humor
Two concepts, each with an eye-catching design and a local humorous connection were developed in collaboration with members from the Nudging Sweden network.
In the first concept, we produced a sign with a pigeon trying to quit smoking. The pigeon wore a nicotine patch and its struggle was enhanced with a message urging the use of ashtrays because “the pigeons are trying to quit smoking”.
The second concept consisted of two types of ground decals. First an orange semicircle with a cigarette butt-man was placed below the ashtray and served as a "target". Second, arrows filled with additional cigarette butt-men were placed in the area, each pointing towards the ashtray.
In addition to both concepts, the ashtrays got a makeover in a bright orange color that caught the smoker's attention.
In the communicative aspect of the nudge, we believe a key solution was found in the sender of the message. Friendly pigeons and cigarette butt-men in this matter connotes very much to what the Gothenburgers call a “go’ gubbe” - a widely accepted humorous expression. Göteborgs Stad was not very visible in the campaign.
RESULTS: 70% less cigarette butts on the ground
The results showed that the concept of the pigeon sign with orange ashtrays had the best effect. When measuring, 70% less cigarette butts were found on the ground. The effect also grew over time!
The ground decals had an even better effect in the short term, but as the experiment went along, the effect decreased. A probable cause was that the decals became dirty after a while. Therefore, the lesson learned is to use ground paint instead! The ground decals can, however, fit well in events and shorter campaigns.
The pigeon concept won in the Most Effective category in the international competition Nudge Awards 2018!
“We try to work in new ways, and we believe that if we can achieve some behavioral change at low cost, we will also activate mechanisms such as positive peer pressure.”
- Stefan Risedahl, Planning manager for Operation & Maintenance at the Traffic Office in Gothenburg
One of the nudging concepts worked 70% better than the use of regular black ashtrays
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We would like to thank the survey staff, street staff, and all committed municipal residents - and a huge thank you to the City of Gothenburg for their willingness to work with measurability.