The pressure of 60 million people sharing space on the island of Java manifests itself in dramatic ways. One is the tremendous volume of waste that is not properly managed. In a housing estate out of the city of Bandung, we applied social marketing research principles to understand residents' motivation for sorting their garbage.

Context The combination of massive population size, expanding cities and poorly planned urban development has dramatically changed Java's landscape. The company behind the Kota Baru Parahyangan housing estate set out to create a residential area that would leave part of the land untouched. This spirit of land ethic motivated us to approach them about residents' attitude and behaviour related to waste management.

By local standards, KBP's waste management solution is progressive. But while the residential area is spotless, most households were throwing away vegetable choppings with other waste types and there was no plan to deal with hazardous waste. It also was apparent that the town management and the residents had different perceptions about the best way to proceed on waste management.

Approach Catalyze developed a formative research plan, based on focus group discussions and semi-structured surveys with households. On our minds: What was the status of household waste at KBP? What kind of benefits would support behaviour change of KBP residents to manage waste better? And how?

We found our initial assumptions on why residents were not managing waste optimally turned around. Whereas we thought that poor communication between household owners and maids was an issue, this turned out to be unproven. Instead, it became apparent that residents favoured a bottom-up approach that involved cluster-level initiatives and incentives to manage their waste better.

All in all, our findings showed that a carefully planned waste campaign strategy that puts residents and communication at the heart of the solution will not only deliver environmental change, but can also improve residents well-being and deliver brand benefit for KBP.

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