Excuse Me Do You Recycle? Public Participation in Curbside Recycling in the UK.

Summary

In 1990, the UK government set a target for the recycling of 25% of household waste by the year 2000. With this new target, many local authorities began to re-think their recycling strategies. In 1995, local authorities of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea realized that although there had been area-wide curbside recycling programs since 1993, many residents were still not aware that it existed. The program had undergone intensive promotions at its inception, including information packages mailed to residents (mail shots), newspaper advertisements, and posters; however, it proved to be an inadequate form of communication. As the area already had a curbside recycling program, the local authorities decided to re-organize promotional strategies and abandon traditional methods of promotion to gain a larger participation rate and reach those people who were unaware of the program. This initiative led to the creation of the RECYCLING ROADSHOW, which intended to implement face-to-face communication through door-to-door canvassing. The recycling unit of Kensington and Chelsea, dressed in noticeable shirts and hats, went into the streets with pamphlets, stickers, and badges between the hours of 10am and 5pm to talk to as many residents as possible. The crew was highly knowledgeable in the area of recycling and used this as an advantage to answer resident's questions concerning specific recycling issues or the program. The crewmembers gained verbal commitments from residents stating that they would begin to participate in the curbside recycling program.

Results

Fifty-seven percent of the households interviewed currently participated in the curbside recycling program. In 8 of 11 (73%) of the areas the crews visited, recycling participation increased, two areas experienced little change, and one area experienced a drop, which was primarily caused by changes in collection dates and routes. Overall, after the inception of the Recycling Roadshow, curbside recycling has increased from 9% in April of 1995 to more than 11% in October of 1996 and is continually growing (almost 13% in 1999). The weekly tonnage of recyclable material has also increased from 107 to 132 tones due to a larger participation rate. The cost of implementing the Recycling Roadshow was also evaluated. The annual estimated cost of the program was approximately $20,000 including labor, clothing (T-shirts and hats), and vehicle costs. The estimated savings in disposal costs and recycling credit payments were $50.00 a tone and $22.00 a tone, respectively, equaling $22,000, which more than covered the costs of the program. In addition, the crew also obtained valuable feedback concerning the recycling program. Overall, the households who made a verbal commitment to recycle were more likely to engage in the activity.

Prepared by: Stacey Forde and Jennifer Parker

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