Yarra Waste Revolution


  • Ellis Jones
  • Yarra City Council


Australia’s recycling crisis has hit local governments hard; with our rubbish mounting, and fewer and fewer places willing to take it. In response, inner-Melbourne Yarra City Council, trialled a new solution that saw them halve the amount of food waste sent to landfill, and provide a much needed boost to the Victorian recycling industry.

Given the council’s identity as a progressive leader in the sustainability space, we proposed the creative response be to frame the programme as an act of revolution; the ‘Yarra Waste Revolution’.

Key Features


There were four key components to the campaign visual toolkit, on which the breadth of applications hinged.

• The ‘revolution logotype’, a circular typographic lockup, that embodied the concept of revolution and circular economies, and also allowed for integration of the City of Yarra logotype in official communications.
• The handmade display typography, referencing the DIY aesthetic prominent in many social movements.
• Illustration was the primary mode of communication for visual content, to ensure that the ‘mark of the hand’ was indelible in execution.
• Physical activation of the campaign was fundamentally important to communicate the ‘bottom up’ approach to community engagement.


In the first two months of the trial, the City of Yarra saved almost 10 tonnes of food and green waste from ending up in landfill, and locally recycled nearly 5 tonnes of paper, plastic, and metals.

Evaluation showed that:

• 96% of trial residents were sorting waste right.
• 81% of trial respondents knew about the revolution before it began.
• 89% of trial respondents were supportive of the new waste service.
• 300+ residents have joined the trial’s Facebook group, where they actively shared tips and had on-the-go questions answered by Yarra City Council


This campaign not only communicated the current updates of the waste removal system but took the opportunity to teach their council the broader issue of waste facing the state as well as leading the way in revolutionising the recycling systems for other councils to follow.


As this project was, at its heart, a behaviour change problem, we used a combination of ‘nudge’ tactics to overcome behavioural biases. Our approach was guided by three principles for engaging with the audience. They were:

• Frame a compelling case for change, ‘why me?’, ‘why now?’
• Shake people from habitual behaviour, and ‘make it personal’
• Build a functional momentum, with in-built feedback loops that normalise new actions and foster conforming behaviours


The language of revolution also works well as an oblique reference to the principle of creating circular economies, central to the motivation of the project.

Aesthetically, we wanted the direction to feel engrained at a community level, with a suitable ‘DIY’ flavour – representative of so many grassroots movements through the 19th and 20th centuries.

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