Defra reacts to call for more recycling incentives
IN THE NEWS | December 4, 2013

Defra reacts to call for more recycling incentives

Defra has said it is continuing to work with councils to reward householders for recycling in response to suggestions that more UK incentive schemes are needed to improve 'plateauing' recycling rates.

Recycling rewards company Greenredeem, formerly Recyclebank UK, has published a white paper warning that Government plans for a zero waste economy are at risk due to apathy among young people, inconveniently placed facilities, and lack of rewards for householders.

But, a spokeswoman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has maintained the government is already taking steps to incentivise people to recycle.

She said: "We want to reward householders for doing the right thing which is why we are working with local councils to trial schemes that reward and recognise people who recycle or re-use."

Among this work is funding given to local authorities through the £250 million weekly waste collection fund administered by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), which offered finance for a range of incentive projects that offer 'genuine rewards' such as shopping vouchers or loyalty points for recycling (see story).

Defra is also working directly with a number of councils and organisations to fund schemes that reward householders for increasing recycling, with the most recent raft of funding announced in August 2012 (see


The research found that of 2,000 UK residents surveyed, 64% said the Government did not do enough to incentivise recycling.

A further 25% claimed that while they were concerned about the environmental future, they had little motivation to be 'green'. Meanwhile, 29% of people admitted they 'could not be bothered' to recycle much waste, with 3% also saying they had never recycled.

Speaking to, Greenredeem communications manager Rob Crumbie explained the majority of respondents believed it was up to businesses, local, and central government to provide the incentives to recycle.

He said: "People want to do the right thing to protect the planet for future generations. Some 73% of our respondents said they would be willing to recycle more. Businesses, government and local authorities should be in charge of making this happen.

"I think we need to signify step change. It is important for us to realise where the benchmark is right now. We are taking our incentives to a much greater audience and we believe we have a solution that will increase recycling rates at a time when they are plateauing, and look to continue to plateau for a third year running."


Mr Crumbie said past examples of punitive action implemented in such London boroughs as Barnet and Hackney had had no significant impact on recycling rates.

He added: "People prefer carrot to the stick approach, and by incentivising householders to recycle they are helping local businesses because they are using points gained through recycling incentive schemes back into products and helping them to survive."

Mr Crumbie went on to admit incentives were not a 'silver bullet' that could spark an increase in recycling rates alone, but said it was one of a number of factors that would help change public behaviour.

Recyclebank UK was acquired by Greenredeem in April this year (see story).

Tom Goulding

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