Hong Kong Unveils the Faces of Litter

Beware litterbugs in Hong Kong.

If you litter on the streets or sidewalks you may just have your face plastered everywhere.

The Hong Kong Cleanup initiative just launched and it’s a remarkable campaign developed by the popular ad agency Ogilvy & Mather (Hong Kong).

The “Faces of Litter” campaign is now running portraits of DNA-profiled litterbugs on outdoor ads at bus stops, subway and train stations, and on highway billboards.The “Faces of Litter” campaign is now running portraits of DNA-profiled litterbugs on outdoor ads at bus stops, subway and train stations, and on highway billboards.

The campaign, called the “Faces of Litter,” is now in full swing and its goal is to promote awareness of just how bad littering is across the city, and most of all identify the lazy and ignorant culprits that refuse to use the trash cans and recycling bins.

The campaign, which is being run in conjunction with Ecozine and The Nature Conservancy, is utilizing science to help tackle the endless problem of littering.

Ogilvy & Mather already identified a number of locations in the city to gather, study, and create DNA-based composites of the offenders who litter.

“This campaign is one of a kind. It’s interactive. It’s innovative. It’s our own science experiment that we’re using to create social change,” says Reed Collins, who is heading up the “Faces of Litter” campaign.

He adds, “Litter is such a major problem in Hong Kong and thanks to newly available DNA technology we can now put a face to this anonymous crime and get people to think twice about littering.”

The campaign is interesting and complex on every level.

Ogilvy & Mather, along with its partners, will use the expertise of research labs and cutting-edge technology to capture the faces of litterers.

Ogilvy & Mather states on its website: “The advanced Snapshot DNA phenotyping provided by ParabonNanoLabs, data has been used to create a visual representation of the person who has littered. Because age is impossible to determine through DNA alone, but still integral in creating an accurate portrait, DNA data has been combined with other factors, such as demographics based on the type of litter and where it was collected to determine the approximate age of the litterer.”

The “Faces of Litter” campaign is now already running portraits of DNA-profiled litterbugs on outdoor ads at bus stops, subway and train stations, and on highway billboards. The organizers are soon planning on running TV and social media campaigns that will also reveal the faces of those who are guilty of littering.

Littering has long been an epidemic in Hong Kong. But hopefully science can help prevent this behavior.Littering has long been an epidemic in Hong Kong. But hopefully science can help prevent this behavior.

Is a campaign like this a little over the top?

Some living outside of Hong Kong may say it is; however those in the city know how bad the problem of littering really is. There is a staggering 16,000 tons of waste dumped in Hong Kong every day from citizens and businesses alike.

So the “Faces of Litter” may seem controversial and may even have some legal implications for its organizers. However, since no one seems to care about the legalities may just demonstrate the frustration that is mounting from litterers and the damage it is causing to the city.

Littering has long been an epidemic in Hong Kong. But hopefully science can help prevent this behavior.