Stop wasting waste: turning rubbish into a resource


According to a study by the European Environment Agency, the EU loses €5 billion in non-recycled waste every year. Annually, we each throw away almost 180 kg of food alone. The European Commission’s Generation Awake campaign has been working to promote resource efficiency since its launch in 2011 – and a recently launched phase of the campaign has just given that message a boost, focusing on the hidden value of the things we treat as rubbish.

We tend to see waste as a problem, but in fact it is an under-exploited resource. Currently, less than 40% of municipal waste – largely household rubbish – is recycled or reused. This is therefore the focus of the new phase of the Generation Awake campaign.

“I… am… not… trash! I have inner values!” says Richard Rubbish, the animated character at the heart of the campaign’s new short film. He asks viewers to help “stop wasting waste”, inviting them to visit the related Facebook and webpages to find more information.

"I… am… not… trash!"

The use of online video and social media aims to reach two target groups in particular: young adults in cities and young families. The campaign website has also been revamped with new content – and is now available in a mobile version.

The campaign Facebook page is hosting a photo competition, based on the theme “how to turn rubbish into a resource”, with the second round starting in April. The prize is a visit to Copenhagen, the European Green Capital 2014.

Additional activities, including a design contest, will take place in four target countries: Bulgaria, Italy, Lithuania and France.

Millions of viewers

In the first month of the campaign’s new phase, the new video had been watched over 2 million times across the various dissemination platforms, with the website receiving 140 000 views. The launch also attracted almost 20 000 new Facebook fans, so that the total has now reached almost 120 000. More than 400 people have entered the photo competition and over 300 articles have appeared in the press across Europe.


Resource efficiency