Real World Visuals has created a visual campaign for West Sussex that brings the ‘wow’ factor to waste.

The campaign uses computer generated images (CGI) to illustrate the amount of recyclable waste thrown away by West Sussex residents in their black bags, worth £3 million.

Nicola Cosson, Communications Manager at West Sussex County Council Wast e Management Service said: “Our local residents were doing a great job, recycling 80% of the correct materials. But the missed 20% represents a significant cost. The brief to Real World Visuals was to break through people’s apathy and get their attention, re-engaging residents about the cost benefits of recycling.”

Antony Turner, Director of Real World Visuals, said: “West Sussex County Council Waste Management Service wanted an innovative way to reach out to households and approached us for ideas. Starting with the Council’s waste dataset, we created an extraordinary visual campaign to highlight the missed value in recyclable materials.”

The film shows how much rubbish could be recycled by each household in West Sussex in a week, and how much of that ends up in the residual (black bag) waste stream. Over the course of a year the heap of recyclable materials disposed of by each household grows to a considerable size.

The camera then zooms out to reveal the mountain of recyclable waste that  West Sussex residents throw out  each year,  which if recycled could save staggering £3 million.

Nicola added: “The overall strap line for the campaign ‘Think before you throw’ was about getting a resident to do exactly that and think ‘Wow! There is still more that I can do.’ This is where Real World Visuals came into their own. I was looking to them to provide that visual ‘Wow!’ which is no mean feat.”

With most households already recycling, the campaign was designed to re-energise existing recyclers and convince non-recyclers of the financial benefits of recycling. Using the same team to produce the online and offline materials was key to ensure consistency and impact of the campaign.

Cosson continued: “From the engagement we received from the original film, we were able to then drill down into more material specific messaging, to highlight exactly what that missing 20% was made up of and educate residents on recyclable materials like foil, plastic pots and aerosols.”

On Facebook alone, the film has been viewed more than 43k times, while other posts and ads from the campaign have received 130k engagements and impressions from targeted local residents. Householders are even advising each other through social media, with no involvement from the Council at all.

Real World Visuals produced a video, extract films and GIFs, and a range of still and print materials for advertising on billboards and railways, and even on security scanners at local libraries.

Cosson added: “It has been a really positive experience to work with Real World Visuals. I knew from the first meeting that they ‘got it.’

“Our residents, like all consumers these days, have very high expectations when it comes to being communicated with, and I have always thought local government campaigns should aim to meet these expectations. The quality of the CGI visuals was essential to make convincing and engaging material that would grab residents’ attention.

“This campaign for me, shows that not only are high quality creative visuals effective for resident engagement, but that it is absolutely possible to produce them within a local government setting and that real value for money in terms of the production and impact can be achieved.”

Turner of Real World Visuals added: “Making data visually ‘real’ is a compelling way to engage audiences and ultimately change behaviour. Our campaigns with West Sussex County Council and Bristol Waste have delivered outstanding results, highlighting the natural fit between CGI and recycling messages. Professional, powerful visuals are the future of communications campaigns.”

Real World Visuals’ earlier campaign with Bristol Waste, which focused on litter as well as recycling, made it to the finals of the National Recycling Awards 2017 for Best Communications Campaign.



Think Before You Throw campaign website:

Campaign Facebook page:

Real World Visuals & West Sussex Waste project page:

Real World Visuals & Bristol Waste project page:

 About Real World Visuals

  • Real World Visuals is a unique environmental communication business. We believe in the power of ‘seeing’ what is currently invisible – carbon emissions, local air pollution, global resources…
  • Our core team combines rigorous scientific methods, programming, environmental understanding and creative media skills.  On larger projects we are backed up by a growing group of great associates.  Our core expertise is to turn data into captivating imagery that anyone can relate to.
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Please contact: Zoë Lenkiewicz, +44 7720 706155