A participatory design and behavioural science approach to reduce waste

Open Evidence is proud to support the Joint Research Centre (JRC) in creating evidence-based and EU harmonised consumer waste sorting labels. Currently, municipal waste generation differs considerably across EU Member States. While this is partially attributable to differences in consumption patterns and economic wealth, differences in municipal waste collection and management, currently not fully harmonised within the EU, play a role. The revised Waste Framework Directive requires Member States to increase their municipal waste recycling rates. While almost all Member States have introduced waste sorting labelling on bins to facilitate consumer waste sorting behaviour, adopted signage, colour schemes, and identified waste fractions vary considerably across Member States.

This is why the JRC aims to develop evidence-based and participatory-based EU harmonised waste sorting labels to facilitate waste sorting by consumers. The JRC has already started working on the topic (see this article) and it has already published a report identifying potential policy measure and assessing their impact (see the report). 

Open Evidence, together with the London School of Economics, Politecnico Milano, Krukow, Cint, and other experts, will go through the steps of conceptualizing and designing an evidence-based waste sorting labelling scheme based on behavioural insights. During the project, Open Evidence will first perform a detailed analysis of relevant existing waste labelling systems and evaluate them as a basis for an EU-harmonised system. Then behavioural and design methods will be leveraged for prototyping, aided by participatory design workshops, and validated through behavioural experiments to provide key insights and policy recommendations for the implementation of the EU harmonised waste sorting label system.