Best practice model
When planning a litter prevention program VLAA recommends the following eight-step model, which is based on behaviour change theory. The model is not only effective but also sets a consistent standard for litter managers to follow.
The three key elements of education, infrastructure and enforcement are central to success and are underpinned by the other components.
Being fully versed in existing knowledge about behaviours, impacts and proven tactics for litter prevention, as well as understanding the characteristics of the location and behaviours being targeted is integral to a successful litter prevention program as is establishing on-the-ground baseline information, i.e. carrying out litter surveys, and periodically repeating this exercise.
Education is the most powerful tool for achieving long-term change in the community. It can change peoples' motivations and build their capacity and capability to do the right thing. The aim is to embed a way of thinking - "I know how to, I want to, and I know what the benefits are".
Making it easy for people to 'do the right thing' by establishing physical infrastructure is another key to long-term behaviour change and reducing litter. Infrastructure can include appropriate bins, signage and as part of the enforcement equation, surveillance cameras and 'under investigation' barrier tape.
Enforcement is not just about catching and prosecuting people. Public knowledge that littering laws are being enforced and will result in fines and possibly public shame is what makes this component work. But of course, enforcement must also actually happen, not simply promoted.
Persuading people to change their behaviour using rewards, privileges and other incentives are a powerful way to encourage people to dispose of their waste appropriately and responsibly.
Working in a coordinated manner within your organisation, engaging with the local community, and gaining the cooperation and support of key sectors such as businesses and traders, goes hand in hand with litter prevention. This starts at the beginning when planning a program, and will be the key ingredient for sustainable success.
A strong communications plan publicising each phase of the litter prevention program helps build support in the community, and is another avenue for educational messages. Communication within teams, with partners and senior management is also essential to maintain support throughout.
Monitoring and Evaluation
Monitoring the program during and after implementation highlights how well the program is going, based on the baselines established at the beginning, and the targets that have been set. This forms the basis for 'doing it again', but with the hindsight of considerable experience.