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Recycling schemes drive sustainable behaviour changes
Aug 5, 2016
Having analysed the individual recycling behaviour of more than two million kerbside collections over two years, the company said "recycling incentive schemes can lead to sustainable changes in behaviour, which significantly increase recycling rates".
"The results show that Greenredeem members recycle twice as much and twice as often as non-members, with members recycling an average of 19.35kg every time they put their recycling out for kerbside collection. Members are also reported to put their recycling out more frequently – 2.5 times per month – while non-members recycle an average of 9.01kg, 1.29 times per month," said Rob Crumbie, director of marketing and communications at Greenredeem.
As well as rewarding members through discounts and offers, Greenredeem said it also educates and motivates communities to collaborate on recycling projects, encouraging members to reuse and reduce. This focus on driving long-term behaviour changes is reported to have resulted in the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead (RBWM) and Halton Borough Council achieving "significant growth" in recycling rates over the past six years.
Before Greenredeem’s scheme was introduced in 2009, Halton’s household waste recycling rate of 30% was said to have been considerably lower than the national average of 36.7%. In 2015, after six years of working together, Halton’s recycling rate had risen to 47%, 2% higher than the average for the UK (45%). The RBWM is reported to be a similar success story, with a 12% increase in recycling, from 34% to 46%, over a six-year period.
"With the country’s recycling rate plateauing at around 45% of household waste, in a trend that would have made achieving the 50% EU target by 2020 difficult, the pressure has been mounting for local authorities to drive growth in recycling," explained Crumbie before adding: "Although it is unclear whether the 50% recycling rate target will be enforced post-Brexit, the country’s recycling rate has ground to a halt and there is still much to do from an environmental and ethical point of view that policy makers must consider. When it comes to climate change, there are no borders or barriers to the impact it has on the environment. The UK must continue to play its part, as a member of the global community, in increasing capture rates of valuable resources through recycling, reducing the amount we consume and reusing where possible.”
The director of marketing and communications pointed out that In order to succeed, "time, energy and creativity must be invested into building and motivating communities, through a broad mix of rewards. For longevity, this should be supported by a strong communication channel that underpins all activity."
Rewards schemes that offer "quick-win” incentives have struggled to achieve the results that Greenredeem’s partners have reported, as they fail to maintain the conversation with participants on a regular, one-on-one level. Some local authorities that take on the pressure of developing their own incentive schemes have struggled to achieve the recycling growth rates they were aiming for," he added.
Out of the 46 local authorities that applied and received grants from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) for reward recycling schemes, only 27 have implemented an initiative so far, said Greenredeem. With reports detailing mixed results for the schemes, 19 local authorities have chosen to sit on their grants, totalling £5.1m in funding, rather than investing in incentive schemes that are not yet proven.
Crumbie continued: "For local authorities to make informed decisions, a clear distinction must be made between schemes that attempt to deliver quick-win results and those that will drive sustainable behaviour change. Creating communities and bringing people together works, supported and underpinned by a communications platform that makes recycling and reuse part of the everyday. There is no need for local authorities to attempt to reinvent the wheel by going it alone. To hit recycling targets, they need to look to proven methods of incentivising sustainable behaviour changes."
Since Recyclebank (now Greenredeem) first launched in 2009, a number of schemes have followed suit, attempting to mirror the success. Unfortunately, many of these schemes have failed because they have cherry-picked which incentives they offer, without investing the time and effort needed to build relationships with communities and become integral to people’s everyday lives,” concluded Crumbie.
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