As the Demo Project-Reduction of Plastic Bags is concerned with behavioral change, awareness, and sustainable impact, the sixth and seventh consultation sessions targeted NGOs and media and public relations specialists respectively. It acted as an opinion poll on the role of mass media and civil society in raising the awareness on the National initiative of plastic bags reduction. “When, how long, where, and how to publicize the initiative” was the main topic of the two sessions held on July 31st, 2017.Twenty four different entities participated in the workshop. These included PR & advertising agencies, digital marketing and social media companies, magazines & newspaper, marketing consultants, and existing civil society organizations and NGOs. Co-organized by the Ministry of Environment and CEDARE in partnership with UN Environment, and contributing to the community dialogue mandated by the Project, the workshop aimed to raise the awareness of the attendees on the importance of the reduction of plastic bags consumption in Egypt in light of the presentation delivered by the Plastic Technology Center. The presentation tackled the harms of non-degradable single use plastic bags with respect to national economy, environment & public health, other countries’ case studies, and Egypt’s statistics and status quo.
Another objective was to consult civil society organizations on their role to support the national initiative to reduce the plastic bags in Egypt and their needs to fulfill this role. Extensive discussions deliberated experts’ viewpoints Experts agreed that it is, yet, important to partner with other governmental institutions, NGOs and corporations in their CSR programmes and engage different stakeholders to maximize the impact of the campaign. Everyone agreed that social media is the most efficient medium with the highest engagement and reachability rate; especially videos. The awareness campaign should be sustainable and long term one as behavioral change needs persistent communication through long span of time.
Marketing specialists stressed the importance of mapping the various stakeholders and developing situation and SWOT analysis featuring the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats as well. This should result in short, medium and long term plans. Besides, they think it is essential to apply research and comparative analysis and capitalize on other countries’ similar attempts.
Regarding the most effective media channel for each stage and each target group, some participants recommended that the awareness campaign should start with TV, since it is the most effective and impactful channel which gets automatically transformed to social media; while others suggested utilizing all media channels at the same time including TV, Radio, newspapers, social media, and direct advertising at sport clubs, schools, and rural areas. Specific messages can be communicated via videos, movies, series, talk shows, public service ads and print materials. Meanwhile, journalists expressed their willingness to write articles about the negative impacts of plastic bags on the environment, human health, & national economy.
The campaign, which classifies multi-target audiences; namely residential, retailers, civil society, and plastic bags manufacturers, should communicate specific message for end users or consumers rather than the message addressing producers. It should also be synergetic to competently address the objective and message of each stakeholder.