Bags Not

Bags Not


Wellington, New Zealand

Category Best Public Relations or Community Service Campaign

Overview of this campaign

The goal of Bags Not was to reduce NZ’s contribution to the global plastic waste problem by encouraging individuals to think twice at the checkout.

The campaign made plastic a national talking point and brought issues surrounding waste disposal into the spotlight. Running in November/December 2017, it was timed to grab the attention of NZ’s newly-elected Government as well as the everyday Kiwi.

Animated videos laid out the scale of the problem in an accessible, socially-shareable way as we explored the impact of plastic bags on our world. An interactive calculator delivered a personalised plastic total, laying out the contribution we each make.

Of course, solving our waste problem isn't simple; we tackled some of the biggest criticisms of anti-plastic bag campaigns square on. We asked whether cotton or paper bags were really 'greener' and addressed the fact that using less plastic means spending more money.

The project was supported by a cross-platform social media campaign, including Facebook Stories, to elevate 'boring old waste' into something to get passionate about.

Our secondary aim was to encourage more plastic recycling. Stuff joined NZ’s expanding Soft Plastic Recycling Scheme through a sponsorship agreement, to grow this initiative nationwide and bring recycling capacity to communities which have previously not had access.

We produced more than 30 articles, while two newsletters reached readers directly in their inboxes. Polls and a reader assignment allowed the audience to get  involved.

Results for this campaign

Bags Not kick-started the conversation around plastic bag usage in NZ. The series connected with our audience, and we saw very strong engagement.

Several pieces in the series saw users spending an average of 3 minutes or more on the page, and we generated 500,000+ page views overall. About 2000 comments were submitted, as well as 15 reader essays. In addition, 37,000 people took part in our online polls, and a further 7,000 interacted with our social media poll. Of these, 75% supported a ban or levy on plastic bags.

Ordinary Kiwis weren't the only ones taking notice. We wanted to bring government attention to the issue and in the immediate wake of our campaign, the task of drafting legislation on plastic bags was officially delegated to Association Environment Minister Eugenie Sage.

Sage is now actively looking at options for the phase out of single-use plastic bags. We will continue to press for change.

Meanwhile, the Soft Plastic Recycling Scheme is collecting tonnes of soft plastics every week from over 350 stores. In the wake of Bags Not, the scheme collected over 11 tonnes per week in December -  an uplift from 8 tonnes per week in September. Anecdotally we are hearing that stores were "inundated" with bags and other soft plastics.

Stuff's ongoing aim remains to make this scheme available to most Kiwis within the next two years.


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