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Bin there, done that

Mark Hargreaves finds out how Metro has helped clean up the streets

Metro is the UK’s third largest newspaper with 1.4 million copies distributed every weekday morning across 50 UK cities.

Read by 3.4 million readers, Metro has captured the attention of commuters around the country and appeals especially to those aged 18 to 44. Ninety-seven per cent of copies of Metro are self-selected by readers between 6am and 10am every weekday morning at the start of the commute.

WE ALL recognise the scenario – free newspapers being self-selected at stations and then subsequently being abandoned by readers and causing a litter problem.

Not only does it look awful, it has a negative impact on the newspaper brand, associating it with litter and waste. In a crowded newspaper market, particularly in London, the number of newspapers being discarded by readers has been growing. The problem was deciding who had the responsibility to recycle the newspapers – the publisher, the reader or public transport companies?

Metro, working in conjunction with other organisations, decided to grab the bull by the horns and clean up this problem. A project team was established made up of relevant managers from around the business and monthly meetings were chaired by Metro’s assistant managing director. This team then implemented activity across the business which all contributed to the overall project goal.

The initial aim was to increase the amount of reader recycling through two routes. Firstly, it was recognised that there were not enough places  to recycle newspapers at the locations where Metro was being consumed. Metro approached transport operators and councils with a proposal to work with them to install recycling points.

One of the major stumbling blocks with this idea was the potential safety issue regarding terrorism risks. In fact, far from installing bins, many traditional bins had been removed from public areas. And so Metro invested a significant budget in developing two bin designs which met the stringent requirements of all the involved parties. The innovative designs allowed Metro, together with its partner organisations, to provide recycling solutions in places that had previously been considered too high- risk for bins of any sort.

To date, Metro has installed bins with 13 rail operators. There are bins in 50 stations with 124 recycling points and a further 127 bins agreed with the councils.

Metro executive director John Leitch says: “Secondly we created a hard hitting campaign to change reader behaviour. We recognised that we needed a change in tone from previous communications and required a media plan that targeted readers at locations where they were likely to abandon their papers.

The ads ran in Metro, on bus panels in nine cities where Metro is distributed and at major London train terminals.

Moving up a gear

Following the success of the recycling bins and the advertising campaign, Metro ramped up the project by combining the two initiatives.

In 2010, a directional reader recycling campaign began in Bristol. Working closely with Bristol council, Metro installed six bins across key city centre locations.

Metro then created an advertising campaign that specifically indicated to commuters where the recycling points were so that the message to recycle had a solution attached to it. The campaign ran across Metro in Bristol and also across outdoor advertising point in the city centre.

Having tested out the concept in Bristol, Metro rolled out the campaign in Newcastle. Working with transport operator DB Regio, eight recycling bins were installed across five stations. This strengthened Metro’s ongoing sponsorship of 20 council recycling bins.

“The recycle bins are being well used by commuters and three main stations bins are being emptied a couple of times a day,” says DB Regio.

“Each day, from the six city centre bins we recycle around 1,200 copies, together with copies left on trains, all of which had been previously abandoned. The spokesperson adds: “The feedback has been all positive and the recycle campaign is working well.”

New London campaign

In June 2011, Metro and London Underground launched a new awareness campaign, in partnership with the Mayor of London and Keep Britain Tidy, to encourage readers and Tube customers to recycle more waste.

Posters, based on a Metro design, will be placed across the London Underground network to encourage people to use the 1,600 bins that are in or within walking distance of the 270 Tube stations.

London Underground strategy and commercial director Richard Parry says: “We know that our customers appreciate a litter-free Tube and we have an army of cleaners who regularly patrol the network collecting rubbish.

“However, we also believe that providing more bins will make it easier for our customers to get rid of their rubbish and over the last few months we have increased the number of bins on the network by 25 per cent.”

Says Leitch: “We want to support green behaviour among our readers and increase the amount of recycling by Tube travellers.

“It’s fantastic to be working with London Underground to achieve this and we’re delighted that they are using Metro’s innovative design in this campaign.

“Metro will continue to monitor the success of all of its recycling initiatives and will continue to invest  in this vital activity.”

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