With the Rugby World Cup drawing to a close, Giustina Diana, recycling manager at Coca-Cola Enterprises GB, discusses the challenges and opportunities major events present for brands to interact with consumers on green issues.

Rugby World Cup 2015 has been one of the most exciting and talked-about sporting events for several years and everyone at Coca-Cola Great Britain and Coca-Cola Enterprises has felt immensely proud to be a part of it. We have long worked with consumers to help ensure major events such as this are as sustainable as possible, and our involvement as sponsors of the tournament gave us a great platform to engage people on the topic of recycling, as we did for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Boosting recycling rates in Great Britain is a core focus of our sustainability programme, and we have embraced the challenge of helping consumers understand how they can go about improving their day-to-day habits, both at home and on-the-go.

Over the past few years, we have established a presence at a range of festivals and events across the country, bringing an element of gamification to the process of recycling. We’ve found that interacting with consumers in fun and unusual ways – on a topic that can sometimes be confusing – is a great way to educate and encourage positive behaviour change. It allows us to engage people properly on the issue through physical demonstration and discussion.

2015 saw the third annual launch of our popular Happiness Recycled initiative at summer festivals, this year including the South of England Show, the Royal Highland Show and the World Curry Festival. The campaign involves a range of games, such as table football, which are activated by recycling bottles. Volunteers are also on hand to offer advice and materials about how visitors can recycle more at home. And the results prove that this scheme is working. Almost 395,000 people had the opportunity to engage with Happiness Recycled this year and of those who did, 52% said they had recycled more since visiting the activations.

During the Rugby World Cup 2015, Coca-Cola has brought its Happiness Pod to fanzones across Great Britain and Twickenham stadium. Comprising four smile-activated vending machines representing each of the Coca-Cola variants – Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Coca-Cola Zero and Coca-Cola Life – consumers were invited to stand in front of their variant of choice and unlock a 250ml Coca-Cola with a smile.

This provided us with a great opportunity to raise awareness of recycling among sports fans with our gamified Happiness Recycled initiatives. We brought one of our most popular recycling-themed games to the fanzones, a Batak performance challenge, where players react to light sensors to recycle as much as they can in 30 seconds. Participants were then rewarded for their efforts with a themed gift, designed to encourage the upkeep of positive recycling behaviour in their daily lives.

With a large number of Rugby World Cup 2015 matches sold out, and major product sampling at events, a significant number of CCE products including the Coca-Cola portfolio and Smartwater will be consumed at Rugby World Cup stadia. This, coupled with the product sampling at events, highlights the importance of actively encouraging visitors to recycle their used bottles on the day through fun and incentivised initiatives, while showing how easy it can be to continue this at home.

Collaboration across the industry also plays a vital role in encouraging sustainable behaviour. The last of our Rugby World Cup 2015 activations will be supported by Every Can Counts (ECC), who will be on hand at the Trafalgar Square fanzone for the final and bronze medal matches of the tournament. ECC’s volunteers will be giving visitors top tips and advice about recycling. As the tournament draws to a close, and as Christmas edges nearer, we also look ahead to teaming up with ECC on our iconic Christmas Truck Tour, during which we will again be spreading the message of recycling across the country.

A study we conducted last year with YouGov revealed that 64% of consumers view recycling as ‘a moral and environmental duty’, and we have already witnessed great improvements in recycling rates in GB. But there is more to be done to maintain this progress.

If I had one message it would be to encourage the industry to think more creatively about how they approach recycling, to recognise the value in making it fun and bringing the message to consumers in unexpected ways.