As we look to recycle more and more of our waste, many councils are turning to reward initiatives to encourage people to boost their recycling programmes. We take a look at some of these initiatives and ask are they worth it?

As you may have seen on our previous blogs, new EU regulations are due to come in which are meant to encourage us to recycle more. It’s fair to say that they’ve been met with a mixed reaction, with Green groups welcoming more recycling initiatives, but members of the public and MPs complaining about the amount of bins that councils will have to provide and the impact that will have on the UK’s streets. Some councils however, are planning to introduce a recycling rewards to encourage members of the public to recycle more. We ask, will these rewards have any impact, or should recycling be a reward in itself?

Rewarding people for recycling can take many forms. Rewards can be shared equally amongst the community, or given directly to an individual who has been singled out for their personal recycling contribution. Sandwell Borough Council are test driving a scheme to see if it will have any impact on the amount of recycling being done by residents.

The scheme is to be trialled across all areas in Sandwell, for a 4-month period during the next 2 years. Recycling rates will be monitored during the 4 months and then neighbourhoods with the highest recycling rates will be rewarded with payments that can be used on community initiatives, such as new school facilities, activities for young and old people, landscaping and local events. The money comes from a £270,000 government grant which has recently been introduced, and it’s hoped that the scheme can reward whole communities which are doing their bit.

Bracknell Forest Council, in Berkshire, are targeting individuals with a recycling incentive scheme that utilises a points system and e+card. Each time a registered resident recycles correctly, they’ll be rewarded 200 points. Once they have accumulated enough points, they can exchange them for rewards. These include membership of leisure facilities, free rounds of golf and discount on recycling products such as composters and water butts.

Last year, Durham residents were entered into a prize draw to win £250 each month. All they had to do was place stickers on their recycled items, which would be pulled at random from the recycling facility and the resident rewarded. It proved so successful that the scheme was adopted by local authorities in Newcastle, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland.

Earlier this year, we wrote a blog about how the Environment Secretary for Scotland, Richard Lochhead was planning a move to introduce financial incentives for recycling. His scheme was based on a Swedish model, which involves adding a small deposit to the cost of a drink and then returning that deposit to the consumer when they recycle their bottle.

The Scottish initiative is yet to take effect, and with recent research showing that most Scottish councils miss their recycling targets Mr. Lochhead told the BBC that the Scottish government needed to consider “what other initiatives can be taken forward to improve Scotland’s recycling performance, including a national deposit-return scheme.”

With Landfill Tax increasing all the time, and councils eager to save money, every extra tonne of recycling will bring financial and environmental benefits. Any means to encourage more recycling amongst members of the public, is more than welcome by us. And if the money is then ploughed into improving the local community for everyone, then even better!

But what do you think? Would rewards encourage you to recycle? Or do you think recycling should jut be done automatically? Let us know in the comment box below!