Diana Olegre Olympia September 12, 2006

I found the story appended below at http://www.letsrecycle.com/news/archive/news.jsp?story=5921 about this UK waste study: http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/waste/localauth/encourage.htm
The pdf of the report is here: http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/waste/localauth/pdf/aeat-householdincentives.pdf
The incentives that they tried were financial and "voluntary," like community rewards. They used both carrots and sticks. According to the article, "While the report on the trials concluded that incentive schemes can be a 'useful tool', it also pointed out that the best way to increase participation in recycling could actually be through a service or infrastructure change, rather than using an incentive." It's good that they piloted... A follow-up article discusses the results:
http://www.letsrecycle.com/info/localauth/news.jsp?story=6018 . One consultant concludes that "pay as you throw" is the most cost-effective method to increase recycling. Are the authors of this study on this listserv? Nice work! (Article below.)

Diana Ruth Olegre
Washington State Department of Ecology
Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction Program
Community Outreach and Environmental Education Specialist dole461@ecy.wa.gov

*** Limited results for household recycling incentive trials (08.08.06)
A report on Defra's 3.1 million household recycling incentive trials carried out last year has revealed only limited results for the schemes. The report came today as the conclusion of a six-month trial of 53 different incentive schemes, involving 100 districts and boroughs starting in October 2005. Hailed by ministers as proof that incentives do encourage householders to recycle, the report actually revealed difficulties in studying the results of the incentive schemes. Results may have been skewed by the national "Recycle Now" campaign, while difficulties with staff work disputes and technical difficulties also made life difficult for the trials. While the report on the trials concluded that incentive schemes can be a "useful tool", it also pointed out that the best way to increase participation in recycling could actually be through a service or infrastructure change, rather than using an incentive. And, local authorities involved in the trials said that incentives "don't necessarily increase recycling rates". The trials focused on schemes offering rewards for those householders that recycled their waste, rather than any scheme that threatened fines against those that did not recycle. It included schemes offering charitable donations, community rewards, schools rewards, personal non-financial rewards, prize draws and cash rewards. "Useful" The report on the trials concluded that incentive schemes "can be a useful tool to authorities that wish to enhance the performance of their waste collection service". However, the report added: "There is, unfortunately, no 'one size fits all' ideal solution. The authority must first and foremost consider the barriers to recycling that it needs to address, such as: lack of participation; excessive contamination; infrequency of collection service, number or size of collection receptacles. "The best solution may then actually be to introduce a service or infrastructure change, for example, collect more material types rather than offering an incentive alone," the report said. Commenting on the trials, environment minister Ben Bradshaw said: "We've trebled recycling since 1997 - but we're going to have to do much better still if we are to tackle climate change and avoid huge fines for breaking European landfill limits." "We are all going to have to change our behaviour radically and these incentive schemes show it's possible," Mr Bradshaw added. Results The results of the incentive trials showed a "positive" affect on householder attitudes towards recycling in 43 out of the 53 trials (81% of the schemes). This was determined by surveys carried out before and after the incentive trials. However, the incentives only generated an increase in recycling tonnage in just over half of the trials, in 30 of the 53 schemes. It explained: "Examples of external factors (that are mainly uncontrollable) that could influence the measure of impact recorded for a specific incentive trial include the national publicity associated with the 'Recycle Now' campaign, but also more local operational factors such as temporary closure of household recycling centres, strikes by collection crews or changes in service delivery of collection rounds." Hi-tech In some of the more hi-tech trials were hit by technical failure. Schemes carried out in Hammersmith & Fulham and Lambeth, Leeds and South Norfolk used bin-weighing systems to analyse precisely how incentives for householders were working. However, the researchers revealed that these trials were hit by problems in the bin weighing software. In South Norfolk, a small increase in recycling rate from 33% to 34% was achieved during 25,000 trial. However, the project reported "technical problems with the bin weighing software, some missing data and subsequent data manipulation difficulties", and the results from two control areas and one trial area were not usable. South Norfolk council's direct services manager Chaz Scholefield said of the trial: "Certainly the conclusion we have come to is that incentives don't necessarily increase recycling rates. But increasing recycling streams and the development of new end markets may well do." ***