In early December 2010, EcoStrategy was approached by The Beer Store (TBS) spokesperson Jeff Newton seeking ideas on how to mark the redemption of the One Billionth container recycled through the Ontario Deposit Return Program. The challenge was to develop a tangible and substantive symbol of the program’s success.

With short lead time, ECO worked to organize a media event at a TBS location selected for its convenience for media attendance and proximity to Queen’s Park to ease the participation of Ontario’s Minister of the Environment, John Wilkinson.

In addition to highlighting reaching the “One Billionth Recycled” milestone, ECO ensured that an educational component was inserted, illustrating the full range of ODRP packaging – not just cans and bottles.

The event began with Chris Winter, Executive Director of the Conservation Council of Ontario (a respected third party), returning a box of ODRP containers. From this collection, a single bottle was selected by Minister Wilkinson and The Beer Store President, Ted Moroz as the Billionth container collected – the Billionth Bottle – the bottle was then signed by TBS staff and other participants.

ECO had commissioned a craftsperson from the Minister’s riding (Perth-Wellington) to construct a maple and Plexiglas case into which The Billionth Bottle was placed. Prominently displayed during the media event, we hope it continues to be carried around the province by the Minister as a symbol of the success of this waste reduction program.

Attended by over a dozen media outlets, in “earned media terms” the morning event generated in excess of $4 million and was described by MOE staff as the Minister’s most successful event to date.

Here, is how it was described at http://www.touchdownsblog.ca

TOUCHDOWN – A BILLION EMPTIES

Some nice media play this week for Ontario’s environment ministry and the provincially-owned LCBO, trumpeting the success of the deposit-return system for wine and liquor bottles which was brought in three years ago. Since then, Environment Minister John Wilkinson announced at a photo-op on Monday, Ontarians have returned more than one billion empties to The Beer Store. Supplemented with stats about diversion from landfill and colourful facts about the kinds of new products the recycled glass helps to make, and flanked by a credible third party endorser (namely Chris Winter, head of the Conservation Council of Ontario), Wilkinson’s announcement was a “ready to eat” media story. And it also shows the communications value that

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organizations can mine from their own data. Keep an eye on your internal numbers, whether it’s the number of widgets you’ve produced or reductions in your carbon footprint through environmental initiatives in your operation. If you hit a major milestone, there’s potentially gold in them thar hills of data.

Click here for the billionth bottle release.

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