New approach to increasing recycling rates

HF and Lambeth councils will be offering communty prizes

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Hammersmith & Fulham and Lambeth Councils will be pioneering a new approach to increasing recycling rates, thanks to a successful bid for funding from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

£119,000 has been secured jointly by the two boroughs' recycling teams to see whether offering incentives to residents can help achieve the tough recycling targets that have been set by central government.

Defra will fund more than 50 local authority pilot schemes across the country to evaluate the effectiveness of a range of household incentives in encouraging householder reduction, reuse and recycling of household waste. Six grants have been awarded to London-based projects.

The two councils will use the funding to find out whether offering a community prize, such as playground improvements or the decoration of a shared area, can increase estate residents' participation in recycling. Selected estates in each borough will take part in a competition to see which can increase their recycling rate by the largest percentage. The winning estates in both boroughs will then receive a share of £40,000 depending on how much they have improved.

A 'recycling thermometer' will be erected on estates so that residents receive direct feedback on their progress.

Councillor Michael Cartwright, cabinet member for environment at Hammersmith & Fulham Council said: "There has been a huge amount of debate in recent years about whether incentivisation is an effective means of increasing recycling rates, but this is the first time such a major study has been carried out into it. We are delighted to be at the forefront of this initiative, and I think it is a testament to the hard work of officers who developed a thorough and intelligent bid for funding.

"Like all London boroughs, we have tough recycling targets to meet, and we hope this new scheme will help to increase participation on estates, where we are rolling out Smart Banks for everyone to use. SmartBanks make it easy to recycle, and we hope that if residents try it once as part of this scheme, they'll never look back."

Robert Overall, Lambeth Council's executive director for environment and culture said: "This is a great opportunity for Lambeth communities participating in this innovation. The Council is committed to encouraging residents to recycle waste, particularly on estates. Financial incentives such as this, will hopefully inspire households to think about the benefits recycling brings, so that it becomes standard practice.

The scheme will also help to raise awareness by demonstrating how we can all play a responsible role in protecting our environment, through an a simple but effective waste management process."

October 9, 2005