Taking steps to encourage behavioral change around littering in Norway17 Jan 2024
Cigarette butts on sidewalks are a common sight in many cities, but we at Philip Morris International (PMI) are on a mission to change this.
Our affiliate, Philip Morris Nordics, commissioned Mindshift to carry out a study on the effects of “nudging behavior” on adult smokers. Based in Norway, Mindshift’s scientific research methods inform product and infrastructure design to encourage behavioral change.
By working with Mindshift, Philip Morris Nordics helped design and deliver an initiative aiming to empower adult smokers to dispose of cigarette butts properly.
Encouraging behavior change requires capturing adult smokers’ attention
The focus of the initiative was to capture the attention of adult smokers and use intelligent environment design to change their waste disposal behaviors—specifically cigarette butts—in one of the busiest areas of Oslo. The team focused on eye-level “ballot bins.” These bins allow you to vote on any subject by choosing which transparent bin to put your litter in, and are a common sight in Norway.
Speaking about the partnership, Jørgen Dalen, Behavorial Scientist at Mindshift, said: “The benefits of our cooperation with Philip Morris is that they give us a chance to conduct experiments, which worked really well. I think it is the most effective measure we have ever seen on littering.”
To support its mission, the team at Mindshift designed innovative, attention-grabbing refuse installations to encourage adult smokers to dispose of their butts responsibly—something Ida Kopperstad, a behavioral scientist at Mindshift, thinks is key: “Our techniques are based on research and studies about human behavior, and how to trigger the right behavior at the right time.”
They placed bright yellow footprints on the pavements to lead adult smokers to these ballot bins. The addition of a fun, football-based question was designed to further encourage adult smokers to bin their butts responsibly.
“You always have to think about motivation and what drives people to make a proper behavioral design,” said Dalen.
Nudging adults to think about what they are doing
And the results? Well, they speak for themselves:
- 145 percent usage increase with nudging and prompts about the bins’ purpose.
- 208 percent bin usage increase when adding further measures, such as football-based questions, to capture attention.
This initiative demonstrates the change in behavior that can occur when adult smokers’ attention is caught and nudging techniques are implemented.
As for the future, Dalen is optimistic: “I think we now have the knowledge about how to reduce the litter, so now it’s pretty much up to the stakeholders to make sure these measures go through.”