Product: Plastic Pollution campaign
Title: Your Plastic Diet
Date Of Campaign: June 2019
Background: WWF exists to help create a planet where people and nature thrive, but plastic is polluting the planet. Modern life is built on plastic. It helps fuel our global economy and enables our quick, convenient and throwaway lifestyles. So much so, that plastic has flooded Earth. Since 1950, 8.3 billion tonnes has been produced and three-quarters has quickly become waste. A mere 9% of this waste has been recycled, 12% incinerated and 79% ends up being dumped into the environment.A wonder materialPlastic is strong, versatile and lightweight, it’s also virtually indestructible, and that's the problem. It doesn’t decompose, so it pollutes our land, rivers and oceans and kills millions of creatures a year.Symbolic gesturesPiecemeal initiatives to tackle plastic pollution have been happening for decades. Ireland introduced a plastic bag levy in 2002 and recent high-profile campaigns from governments and big business banned single-use plastics, such as bottles, bags and straws. Considering the scale of the problem, these gestures are insignificant and were preventing more meaningful action, case in point: straws only account for 0.0002% of the plastic in our oceans.The current approach was failing, badly. Plastic production will rise 40% by 2030, and by 2050 there will be six-times more plastic in our oceans, to the extent it could outweigh all the fish. Plastic has created an environmental catastrophe, yet the crisis was being tackled on an ad-hoc, largely symbolic basis. A plastic ‘Paris’ is the only solution The only way to stop plastic polluting nature is to generate unprecedented public support to pressure governments to regulate the material. It’d be the plastics equivalent of the Paris Agreement on climate change. WWF tasked its APAC campaign team in Singapore to kick-start a global campaign to address the plastic crisis. Over-exposure decreases impact Awareness about plastic pollution was at all-time high, generated by shocking statistics and horrifying media coverage of dead animals. But the more people see graphic environmental images, the more they become desensitised and disinterested. The scale of the problem was impossible to act on, while the over-exposure made people numb to the issue and made it less urgent. We’re hooked on plastic People we spoke with understood the environmental damage plastic caused, yet they didn’t feel it impacted their life. Plastic was so useful that they were hooked into the convenience of disposable goods and packaging. CHALLENGE How can we create people pressure on the world’s leaders to act on our plastic crisis where people don’t feel its destruction, only its usefulness? OBJECTIVESChanging humanity’s relationship with plastic would take time. The Paris Agreement took two decades of talks to agree. The campaign’s objective was to kick-start conversation and public support to begin getting governments to commit. This would build credibility so the treaty could be introduced at the UN's next environment summit in February 2021. 1: AttitudeKPI: 1.75 billion reachAn idea so simple it could transcend cultures, yet so interesting the conversation could be sustained. 2: BehaviourKPI: 1 million supporters, from 50 different countries. WWF needed a tool to lobby governments – one million people demands attention. 3: Action WWF needed half the UN’s members, 97 nations, to agree to start negotiation on the plastic treaty. KPI: Public commitment of 20 governments by the end of 2019 – a fifth of the required UN members.
Idea: Plastic's notoriety comes from visible pollution in the far-away environment; but it's so pervasive in nature that the pollution has infested our everyday environment. The ‘wonder material’ takes up to a millennia to decompose so it only ever breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces until it becomes microplastics. Plastic is inside us Scientific studies show we’re consuming microplastics from fish, shellfish, salt, beer, honey, sugar, bottled water, tap water, and even the air. Plastic has entered every level of the food chain, and has entered our bodies. Science was increasingly aware of this disturbing fact, but the average person on the street did not have a clue. INSIGHT It’s impossible to ignore plastic’s impact on nature when you’re also the creature eating, drinking and breathing the pollution. IDEA: YOUR PLASTIC DIET Our diets now contain plastic, we are inevitably consuming it, so our bodies are becoming infested with plastic pollution. Credibility – Decode the Science The University of Newcastle was commissioned to analyse scientific studies about human consumption of microplastics. It found the average person consumes around 100,000 microplastics every year. Campaign-ability – Quantify the Diet 100,000 microplastics equates to approximately 250 grams of plastic a year. People are therefore ingesting 5 grams of plastic pollution every week. What plastic object weighs 5 grams and is ubiquitous around the world, with 20 billion of them in use? A credit card. YOU ARE EATING A CREDIT CARD A WEEK. This direct and single-minded fact became the centre of gravity for the entire campaign. It made the statistics tangible and plastic pollution unforgettable. It made the plastic problem personal – this is a piece of plastic that has people’s name on it, it’s with them every day, and so everyone’s cards were turned into a personalised media channel. Launch the Diet Plastic Diet was announced to the media and simultaneously launched on WWF’s social channels. A campaign toolkit, was created in 11 of the most popular global languages. Key visuals of our campaign device and films dramatized how much plastic we were ingesting, explained the issue and directed to the campaign website. Experience the Diet In subsequent weeks, WWF offices communicated Plastic Diet and activated it, including: - The Asian Food Network had its chefs create recipes with plastic additions, these 30/60 second slots were featured in its programming that is broadcast across South East Asia.- In Germany, it became the focus of a schoolbook: "Our Environment - Our Responsibility".- In Malaysia, announcements during a soccer match informed 80,000 fans it would take them 10 seasons to eat the plastic seat they sat on.- In Singapore, people saw how much plastic was in their diet when they visited public toilets.- In Hong Kong, the film was played on the region’s largest digital screen during dinner time.- In Japan, Plastic Diet was the focus of a 45-minute current affairs show on prime-time TV.- The Indian and Thai governments used Plastic Diet in public awareness campaigns. All activity pushed people to an interactive campaign website. Based on diet and geography, people could take a test to see how much plastic they were likely ingesting a week. After feeling the personal impact of plastic pollution, people were compelled to sign the global petition. Finally, a personal protest post with their Plastic Diet results was generated which people could share with a single click to their social channels. Lobby with the Diet Plastic Diet gave WWF a platform to break in and influence political systems. Packs featuring a physical version of the campaign's plastic card, along with the massive weight of the public support via the signatures, were used by WWF teams to engage politicians, civil servants and governments in conversations, meetings, summits, and conferences, from the G20 to the UN.
Results: ATTITUDE KPI: 1.75bn reach Result: 4.1bn earned media impressions - 234% of target. Over 600,000 social posts fuelled a 44% increase in plastic pollution conversation. BEHAVIOUR KPI: 1m supporters, from 50 different countries.Result: 1.65m - 160% of target; Pledges from 181 countries - 320% of target Plastic Diet became WWF’s largest and fastest growing single public action in its’ 59-year history. ACTIONResult: 40 governments publicly and 40 privately committed to a global treaty on plastic – 400% of target. Global government support represents 80% of the nations needed to begin negotiations at the UN. The impact across European Union countries, with 755 thousand citizens demanding action, helped lead to the EU’s executive branch to commit. The European Union is the planet’s most powerful regulatory force. United States Senator Tom Udall used the Plastic Diet research and literally waved his credit card around as he introduced the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act into the United States Congress in March 2020. A leap forward Plastic Diet’s 1.65m supporters have eaten an estimated 232,000,000 grams of plastic and 46,400,000 credit cards. The ROI of implementing this change will be momentous. The social cost of plastic pollution is estimated to between $139 billion and $2.5 trillion every year. Plastic Diet continues to be used to lobby governments, gathering momentum in the run-up to the UN Environment Assembly where WWF aims for negotiations on the plastic treaty to begin – now with backing of leading governments. The Diet created a leap forward in WWF’s fight against plastic pollution and its mission to create a planet where people and nature thrive.