A new study has been launched into how best to boost recycling in urban areas. UK Recycling charities Keep Britain Tidy and SITA UK, have warned that England is in danger of “flatlining” when it comes to urban recycling.

With the government looking to increase the amount of recycling that the country produces by 2020, there has been a recent drive to encourage more people to recycle their goods. With many cities only achieving recycling rates of 15-20% there is a real fear that the UK is failing to recycle more, and there is some concern that the country will fail to reach the 50% recycling target set by the EU in 2020.

In a bid to uncover what would make Britons recycle more, an inquiry into UK recycling habits has been launched by the organisations Keep Britain Tidy and SITA UK. The inquiry is due to take into account the views of the general public, waste industry specialists and government bodies to find the best solutions to the recycling problem. Local bodies will then test any plausible solutions, as early as June of this year.

Andy Walker, campaigns and communications director for Keep Britain Tidy, said the inquiry was “an opportunity for the man, or woman, on the street to have their say on an important issue that affects us all.”

One way in which councils are hoping to increase urban recycling, is through incentive schemes. We have often spoken about these schemes on this blog, and in fact a recent DEFRA report suggested that recycling rewards schemes don’t work in isolation. The report in fact claimed that recycling schemes only worked if several criteria were met, including a deep knowledge of the target audience and an ability to measure the impact of rewards.

The DEFRA report has been disputed, by another study which discovered that councils who utilised incentive schemes saw an 8% increase in the amount of recycling that they collected.

Taking place over 30 local authorities, the study found that incentive strategies had led to an average 4% reduction in landfill. The research, conducted by Serco, found that 25% of residents surveyed had increased their recycling because of the incentives put in place.

A number of councils have used recycling incentive schemes to increase the amount of waste being processed in their areas. Last year, residents of Knowsley were given the chance to win a Kindle Fire by pledging to recycle a certain amount of their waste. The scheme has proven to be a success, with hundreds of residents signing up,.

But question marks still remain over what the potential impact of recycling initiatives is. The prevailing opinion is that more research needs to be done into the impact of incentive schemes to see what can be achieved through them.

Chris Murphy, deputy chief executive of the Chartered Institution of Waste Management said “there is much to learn about incentives in this sector and at present we are only scratching the surface.

“We need objective reports like this to inform decision makers so that they can see the options and decide what is right for their residents and their particular circumstances.”

What do you think? Would incentives make you want to recycle more? Let us know by commenting in the box below!