Hong Kong used DNA analysis to put a face to the typically anonymous crime.

Littering is a serious problem in Hong Kong. Residents toss nearly 15,000 tons of trash per day, and the city's three landfills are dangerously close to capacity. Much of the garbage also winds up in the ocean as marine debris, despite littering fines of HK$1,500 (about $200USD). All in all, China is responsible for roughly 30 percent of the global scourge. Fines don't seem to be a sufficient deterrent. So what would be?

Could public shame stop litterers in their tracks? That's the question Hong Kong Cleanup asked in "The Face of Litter," an environmental campaign that used DNA phenotyping to generate visual renderings of litterers' faces. The high-tech pillories were installed at transit stations across Hong Kong from April 22 to 29.

Ogilvy & Mather Group

The "Face of Litter" campaign didn't shame any real-life offenders, however. The project—designed by Ogilvy & Mather Group and developed in partnership with Ecozine and the Nature Conservancydrew visual profiles from the DNA of a volunteer control group. But Ecozine's editor, Nissa Marion, hopes that the project still served as a deterrent for would-be litterbugs: "The intent certainly is that people will have that, 'What if they really did that and it was me?" thought process," she says. As the promo video puts it, "Don't let it be your face."

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. photo: A lone tourist in Barcelona, one of several global cities that have seen a massive crash in Airbnb bookings.
    Coronavirus

    Can Airbnb Survive Coronavirus?

    The short-term rental market is reeling from the coronavirus-driven tourism collapse. Can the industry’s dominant player stage a comeback after lockdowns lift?

  2. Equity

    We'll Need To Reopen Our Cities. But Not Without Making Changes First.

    We must prepare for a protracted battle with coronavirus. But there are changes we can make now to prepare locked-down cities for what’s next.

  3. A pedestrian wearing a protective face mask walks past a boarded up building in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Governors from coast to coast Friday told Americans not to leave home except for dire circumstances and ordered nonessential business to shut their doors.
    Equity

    The Geography of Coronavirus

    What do we know so far about the types of places that are more susceptible to the spread of Covid-19? In the U.S., density is just the beginning of the story.

  4. Illustration: two roommates share a couch with a Covid-19 virus.
    Coronavirus

    For Roommates Under Coronavirus Lockdown, There Are a Lot of New Rules

    Renters in apartments and houses share more than just germs with their roommates: Life under coronavirus lockdown means negotiating new social rules.

  5. Equity

    The Problem With a Coronavirus Rent Strike

    Because of coronavirus, millions of tenants won’t be able to write rent checks. But calls for a rent holiday often ignore the longer-term economic effects.

×