Historically, opinion research had shown that the reputation of the plastics industry was in a slow but steady long-term decline in the UK.
Bottle champions was a joint campaign with the Marine Conservation Society
The various bodies that represent the industry in the UK and in Europe had been concerned by this erosion in public support for fear that it would lead to the introduction of unwelcome legislation or impede the development of new policy necessary to address key issues of importance to the industry. At the root of the public’s concern about the industry was the perceived damage plastics were doing to the environment, generally with a particular focus on marine litter. These issues had been driven up the public agenda by a combination of consumer media and various NGOs including Friends of the Earth and the Marine Conservation Society.
Newgate (previously PPS) was appointed by three industry bodies to develop a communications strategy aimed at reaching out to key opinion formers and beginning the long road to building environmental credibility with the thinking public. Newgate developed the concept of the Plastics 2020 Challenge to serve as a platform for the campaign. The Challenge was set for the industry itself, retailers, national and local government and the public at large to each do its bit to reduce the impact of plastic litter in the environment. Specifically the Challenge envisaged that no plastics waste would be sent to landfill by 2020 in order to reuse scarce resources and to comply with EU legislation that would otherwise impose heavy fines on councils that continued to use landfill extensively.
The Plastics 2020 Challenge became an important vehicle to talk to all stakeholders on the important issues around waste management. These ranged from one-to-one ministerial meetings, through to briefings with key politicians at both a national and local level. This opinion former contact programme was supported by a news campaign conducted through national, trade and digital media. In addition Newgate helped to build bridges with the key NGOs involved in order to establish a practical working dialogue. One result of this was a joint initiative with the Marine Conservation Society to encourage the recycling of plastics bottles amongst school age children and their parents. The campaign was called “Bottle Champions” and was a combined education initiative with the MCS.