Reducing recycling contamination with Bin Your Nappy

The Brief

According to Biffa, the cost of contamination from dirty nappies being disposed of in recycling bins was estimated at £1.48m in 2019/20.

North London Waste Authority (NLWA) appointed Barley to create an engaging campaign to:

  • raise awareness of nappy contamination among the general public
  • encourage parents to throw nappies in the general waste bin
  • support NLWA’s call for nappy manufacturers to make the labelling on packaging clearer.

Insights and Approach

We began by building an understanding of the level of contamination and the issues this causes by visiting the Materials Recovery Centre where recycling is processed. The workers there said dirty nappies where one of the most frequent contaminants they saw and definitely the least pleasant to deal with as waste is sorted by hand. We also commissioned polling which revealed that one in 10 parents admit throwing nappies in the household recycling. Of those who put nappies in the recycling, more than a third said it’s because the packaging shows the recycling logo, while a fifth said it’s because they are labelled ‘disposable’. 

These insights formed the basis of hard-hitting national and London-wide press releases setting out the scale of the problem and the consequences. However, we know that finger wagging doesn’t change behaviour and so we developed the fun and creative Bin Your Nappy campaign to engage north London parents and inform them of the right thing to do.  

Our campaign was underpinned by a compelling social media campaign, at the heart of which was an animated video that changed the lyrics of the nursery rhyme ‘If You’re Happy and You Know It Clap Your Hands’, to ‘Bin Your Nappy and You Know It’s In Safe Hands’, featuring the voices of local primary school children. Carefully targeted social media ads ensured cut through with North London parents on Facebook, Instagram and Spotify.

Alongside this we engaged directly with key stakeholders – producing posters and other materials which were shared with local authorities, healthcare providers, children’s centres and playgroups in north LondonA video was also created for use by NLWA senior figures on LinkedIn with a call to action to nappy manufacturers to make the labelling on nappy packaging clearer.

Our work on Bin Your Nappy has continued in 2021 with humorous video content produced with influencers The Scummy Mummies to reach new parents.

The Outcome

National media coverage included Sky News Sunrise, Mail Online, Huffington Post parenting section, BBC, ITV, Yahoo! and MSN. 

Both BBC London TV and ITV London ran in-depth pieces on their evening newsincluding interviews and extracts from the #BinYourNappy animation. BBC Radio London ran an interview and we secured an in-depth piece in Evening Standard.  

PA write up was picked up online by 184 regional and local newspapers 

The media that covered our story amplified the campaign on social with the BBC London video on Facebook receiving 17,000 views and the ITV London video gaining over 9,000 views. All posts generated a significant number of comments, likes and retweets from audiences.  


items of national coverage (against a target of 2-3)


items of London coverage (against a target of 5-8)


items of regional coverage



social media impressions for campaign posts



webpage click throughs