Developing citizen-centred behaviour change strategy across Cambridge and Peterborough

 Cambridge and Peterborough’s RECAP group have a remit to communicate and support campaigns to tackle waste and recycling behaviours across the region, working with 8 different councils. 


They wanted to build an understanding of the importance of citizen behaviour change and get all stakeholders across the decision-making and communication process involved, so that when the team presented campaign ideas, all council members, senior managers and communications teams understood the approach. 

To achieve this, they booked a series of three behaviour change workshops. 

1) Online introduction to behaviour change

First, we ran an online introduction to behaviour change to give council members and employees a background to the core principles. 

Councillors discussed how they may apply this to their own workload and commitments, and we supported them in making the principles relevant and applicable to their daily work so that the knowledge was embedded.

2) Strategy session – starting from the inside out

When considering strategy, it’s tempting to want to start with the details including policies, legislation, and operational and marketing plans. Strategy however really means looking at the overall picture.

However, the behavioural approach starts with understanding the people carrying out the behaviours. 

During a half-day session with the RECAP strategy team, we worked through the COM-B model whilst considering a range of ongoing waste and recycling challenges the region is facing.

Initially they considered if citizens had the: 

  • Capabilities – both physical and psychologically
  • Opportunities – both physical and social
  • Motivations – reflexive and automatic

Understanding where citizens were at

Initially, they considered if citizens had these elements to complete the behaviour: 

Identifying initiatives

Where the gaps existed, the relevant and appropriate initiatives and approaches were then discussed from the COM-B chart.

Livvy shared examples of how these headings manifested in real-world examples applied in other local authorities.

Identifying strategy options

Finally, with these initiatives chosen, the team could then look at what were the appropriate strategy mechanisms to deploy. The COM-B model provides these related to the mechanisms identified in the earlier step.

Key findings: One of the key findings was the need to conduct research to allow better understanding of people across the region.

3) Communication session – audience-centred approaches

The final half-day introduced the communications team to three tools for developing campaigns: 

At the end of the session, people shared their ideas for a campaign and the RECAP team had Mural boards full of ideas to take forward. 

The team’s reflections on the learnings to take forward were: 

“With all the forthcoming changes contained within the Resources and Waste Strategy, the RECAP partnership recognised that behavioural change was a vital strand in any future planning. 

We looked around for a specialist who could provide this type of training, (but from a waste perspective) and identified Livvy Drake as someone who could undertake the role. “

Bryony Rothwell