HSB Living Lab tests if ingenious communication can lead to better source sorting

Natalie Kamra-KregertNudging

In HSB’s Living Lab in Gothenburg, new and exciting solutions are continuously tested to create more sustainable housing and behavior. In the spring of 2022, HSB LL wanted to explore how they could get more residents to sort their waste even better. In the living lab, the environmental room is very nice and has a close connection to nature with forest pictures on the walls. It is also well equipped with 10 different waste bins and sensors for real-time measurement. However, there are challenges with waste management where a contributing factor may have been the unclear signage in the environmental room.

“With the help of Nudgd and our residents, we want to evaluate whether more ingenious signage contributes to better source sorting – and well-being – in the environmental room,” says Madelaine Doufrix, project coordinator at HSB Living Lab.

Unclear signs regarding source sorting are a common problem in Sweden – which has now been given a uniform solution. Avfall Sverige has developed a sign system for waste fractions that can be used throughout Sweden.

“Finally, a northerner who moves to the south can feel at home as the sign on the container for plastic will look the same. For homes, the recognition factor can be important, source sorting can be confusing enough. It should be easy to do the right thing”, says Anna Strannegård, communicator at Nudgd.

What is left now is only to implement the signs and put them up everywhere. It is up to each landlord or municipality to do it.

Here at Nudgd, we saw an opportunity to combine the clarity of the sign system with nudging messages. We also took the help of well-proven formulations regarding source sorting. Previous research has shown that questions can activate system 2 thinking, that is, we do not go on autopilot when we throw garbage but we actually think before we throw something in the waste bins. The sign, therefore, displays the text “Does your waste really belong here?”, and the sign has the same color as the waste fraction. The hope is that the residents will now have the chance to think twice before lifting the lid.

To make it even easier to absorb messages about what should be sorted, a small bird carries ingenious tips regarding source sorting.

The goal of the project is to make the residents recycle better to save the environment, keep the environmental space clean and keep costs down. The remaining to do now is to measure and see if the nudge gives the desired effect.

Do you also want more people to sort sources correctly? Let us tell you more about our services.

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