Results of the nudge project in Latina

In 2023, we were pioneers of a true example of “nudge” project, applied to the world of waste, and the results were extremely interesting.
The initiative, carried out in collaboration with the University of Trento, involved the Municipality of Latina and ABC Latina, the local waste collection utility.
The goal of the project was to improve the separate waste collection carried out by citizens, and help them build virtuous habits.
Our approach is called “nudge theory”, in other words a kind push.
The idea is to drive people to perform positive behaviors, without any obligation.

Technical notes
We made a few technical choices in order to obtain analytical data:

  • Product analyses before and after the project implementation
  • Selection of two similar city districts: a pilot area and a test area
  • Digitisation of the collected data

1st step
In the first step we carried out an analysis of citizens’ needs, using a survey conducted within the Junker’s app.

“The goal of this survey – these are the words of Federica Stablum – is to shift our focus back to citizens and their needs. Products and services are often created without referring to those who will actually use them every day. We believe it is important to understand what drives people to do separate collection, and to figure out what we are doing well and what we can still improve”.

The survey contained several questions, and to “What would you consider useful to improve your separate waste collection?” the 30% of participants answered that “Having feedback about how I recycle” would be a useful strategy.

2nd step
In order to try and meet the request for feedback on separate waste collection, the project included “smileys”: these coloured stickers provided feedback on how users recycle.
Then, using the QR code, users could receive the relevant explanation: each message took users to a specific page to specifically support them through the changes to be implemented.
Besides, this allowed us to verify how citizens actually used the system we created.

3rd step
ABC Latina staff played an extremely important role. Their tasks were:

  • Checking the contents of containers
  • Applying the sticker
  • Reading the RFID TAGs, through the ArcoBEAT portable reader
  • Recording, on ArcoBEAT, the type of applied sticker.

These steps were necessary to create an information database, and subsequently assess the effects of the process seen on the basis of the changes of users.

The project was developed over a period of about six months, in which we carried out product analyses, staff preparation and field monitoring for a total 43 days of information checks and 2,607 data records.
Data processing has allowed us to bring out those several users who corrected their mistakes, autonomously and with satisfaction.
With the 1,302 applied smiles, the territory of Latina and the districts covered by the case study consolidated the data of separate collection with

  • an increase in the amount of the organic fraction
  • a reduction in the amount of plastic and metal packaging within the residual waste fraction

As a further result, we helped citizens understand the residual waste container is to be taken out only when full; users were extremely proactive, thus allowing ABC Latina to reduce collection on the territory.

Concrete results, obtained with a smile.

Get in touch for the smileys