War on Waste drives community action

Schools, hospitals, businesses, govt & community groups have all made change due to ABC series.

An impact report on ABC’s War on Waste has identified significant social and environmental change across Australia.

The report by the University of Technology Sydney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures and the ABC identified 452 high-impact waste-reduction initiatives by schools, hospitals, businesses, governments and community groups including:

  • Woolworths’ decision to remove plastic straws from its stores in Australia and New Zealand
  • The Western Australian Government’s banning of single-use plastic bags
  • A surge in cafes offering discounts to customers with reusable cups, preventing almost 61 million single-use cups from ending up in landfill
  • Schools introducing co-mingled recycling and e-waste collections
    Hospitality businesses banning single-use plastic straws
  • Hospitals and clinics introducing recycling systems and replacing single-use plastics and polystyrene with reusable products

Jenni Downes, Research Lead at the Institute for Sustainable Futures and report co-author, said: “War on Waste has triggered systems-wide changes, driving high-impact waste-reduction initiatives, models and practices across Australia. The universal adoption of the ‘war on waste’ slogan demonstrates a new consciousness in communities everywhere and has raised expectations and demand for change.”

Teri Calder, ABC Impact Producer and report co-author, said: “War on Waste has provided the foundations for policy change and driven widespread action to reduce Australia’s waste footprint. The biggest impact of the program has been in inspiring those with the power to make changes – in businesses, governments, education institutions and community organisations. The ABC is proud to have sparked a national conversation and inspired action to reduce our collective waste footprint.”

Almost half the 280 organisations in the report reduced waste in their operations, services or products based on ideas from War on Waste. Schools and universities introduced more than 200 initiatives, including e-waste collections and composting.

The snapshot of changes introduced over the six months after the broadcast of Series 2 of War on Waste in 2018 was only the “tip of the iceberg”, the report found, with the total number of waste-reduction initiatives likely to be much higher still.

The report found that while many public education campaigns struggle to shift behaviours, viewers responded well to War on Waste’s “motivating and uplifting” format, “solutions-focused” approach and stunts, such as an enormous footprint of plastic waste on Manly Beach in Sydney.

More than two-thirds of the 3.3 million viewers of the second series reported changes in waste behaviours, according to separate ABC audience data.

The report is available here.

3 Responses

  1. Fantastic news. As a teacher I implemented a unit of work to a cohort of 100 students linking in with the War on Waste series two. The students embraced it. Unfortunately our school is not yet on board a recycling program. We will keep trying,,,

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