Bringing a community together to revolutionise waste.

Learn more about this project




“Our current model of waste and consumption is broken” – Danae Bosler, Mayor, City of Yarra

Australia’s recycling crisis has hit local governments hard – with our rubbish mounting, and fewer and fewer places willing to take it. Yarra, an inner-Melbourne city council, is trialing a new approach to tackle this head-on. To support this revolutionary change, Ellis Jones created the Yarra Waste Revolution campaign.


The campaign supports 1,000 City of Yarra residents asked to forget everything they thought they knew about recycling and start again. It’s a big change – and as a trial, it’s designed to be carefully evaluated for insights on how council can change waste across the municipality in 2020.

Our concept for the ‘Yarra Waste Revolution’ captures at its core what Yarra was seeking from the trial and campaign – a major change, that brings the community together to achieve a collective goal. It’s also a nice oblique reference to the circular economies that result.

Applying behaviour change techniques and plain language principles, the campaign engages people to change an action often carried out thoughtlessly and habitually.

Our approach applied three guiding principals:

  • A compelling case for change: ‘why me?’, ‘why now?’
  • Shake people from habitual behaviour.
  • Regular feedback loops: that show progress, impact and normalise positive behaviours (and conformity biases).

Aesthetically, we wanted the direction to feel engrained at a community level – representative of so many historic grassroots movements. A handmade display typography and use of bespoke illustrations delivered this DIY aesthetic, connoting that this revolution was part of us, the community. This was reinforced through consistent use of the first-person plural across communications.

A further central element to the visual toolkit was the ‘revolution logotype’, a circular typographic lockup, seamlessly integrating of the City of Yarra logo, as required.

While highly geographically targeted, our channel strategy had to ensure no audience, demographic, or language group, was left behind. Based on the known preferred communication modes for council communications, campaign executions spanned direct mail, digital, outdoor advertising, a mural and a pop-up launch activation where people could engage one-on-one.


In the first two months of the trial, the City of Yarra has already 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.

Early evaluation shows that:

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

“Some excellent creative thinking which had a real impact – others could learn from this case study which is particularly relevant in today’s environment.”

IABC 2020 Gold Quill Awards


of trial residents are sorting waste correctly.

Their concept and branding brought a vibrancy to the project we really valued, and which was a change from our usual council look. Their problem-solving skills, creativity, and flexibility as we have responded to unexpected or unplanned aspects of the project has been crucial to our project’s success.

Our contacts at Ellis Jones were passionate about the project and really wanted it to succeed. It wasn’t just another job for them.

Yarra City Council