Metro Vancouver

Organic waste management is no joke – but it can be funny.


The Food Speaks Up

As of January, 2015 organic waste will no longer be allowed in Metro Vancouver garbage. The region has allowed a six month grace period in which to educate the public on methods for alternate disposal solutions. Ion was engaged to develop a regional organics campaign that provides impetus toward behavioural change in residents moving toward the upcoming ban.


Our strategy was to provide impetus for behavioural change with regard to organic waste and ultimately create a social norm where food waste is recycled. We wanted to communicate that the upcoming changes were a positive move for the region and the environment and ultimately increase uptake in green bin use dramatically. We didn't want to order people around, dictate to them, or be heavy-handed, so the campaign approach needed to be light-hearted and fun. We established a graphic approach would also engage a broader audience, including youth and ESL households.

The key messages we developed: Join your neighbours in a positive change for organic waste management in Metro Vancouver – we’re all in it together; Do your part, not because of the ban on organic waste, but because it’s the right thing to do; Our region and the environment will benefit by a major reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from landfills; Talk to your co-workers and strata councils about what corporations can do to help; Together we can divert over 70% of waste from landfills.

The brand essence: fun, environmental, informative, surprising, truthful, youthful: FEISTY

Our Approach

Our brand essence and specifically the idea of fun is what drove the direction of talking food. Googly eyes are inherently fun and applying them to organic waste makes a quirky, direct connection with the viewer. We stressed to the client that the use of clear, simple language and clean, open design would create an informative, yet engaging campaign that would aid in accessibility for MV's large ESL community. This approach would also work well for outdoor advertising given the few seconds you have to convey a message. We developed a tiered system for copy that could be used for different applications depending on their type, size frequency and depth. Eight characters were developed with a range of materials: vegetables, fruit, cooked meat, bones, pasta, eggshells and fish to convey that all food scraps, not just vegetables, can be composted.

While Metro Vancouver was responsible for the majority of the media buy, individual municipalities throughout the region contributed to deployment through available bus shelters, community centres, vehicles and other public space. Ion provided strategy, writing and graphic design services to create the various public media materials. Photography was provided by Raeff Miles and food styling by Jennifer Stamper.

The Result

It's too early to tell the impact on actual green bin uptake, but the campaign has been incredibly well received both by Metro Municipalities and residents. The posters are very popular with kids and we have heard that some kids will only ride buses that have the food on them.



Ion is currently working on a business extension to the campaign that focuses on the food industry.