A new DEFRA report has revealed recycling reward schemes do not have a lasting impact on recycling levels. The report also revealed that whilst recycling has been on the increase, 2013 saw recycling rates leveling out as a whole.

The DEFRA report revealed that although recycling rates have been on the rise since 2006, they have begun flat lining towards the end of 2013. Recycling rewards had been suggested, in a bid to boost figures, but DEFRA claim that this is only a “quick fix” solution, and not a very helpful one.

Recycling rewards cannot succeed on their own, the report suggested, and must instead be partnered with a comprehensive, and well planned out campaign.

The report suggested 6 preconditions that must be adopted if recycling reward schemes are to have any chance of succeeding. These were:

    •       Easily accessible recycling service
    •       Strong communications making use of different channels
    •       Deep knowledge of target audience
    •       Regular feedback on recycling service
    •       Ability to measure the impact of rewards
    •       Proper and correct delivery of rewards*

One such recycling rewards organisation, Greenredeem, supported DEFRA’s findings. Rob Crumbie, Communications Director at Greenredeem, said recycling rewards “are just the tip of the iceberg.”

“The best way to encourage positive recycling habits is to engage residents with well-communicated information that can be used to create sustainable behaviour change. “

Greenredeem work with the Boroughs of Windsor and Maidenhead, to provide a comprehensive recycling reward scheme. They found that, with the correct preconditions in place, recycling rewards resulted in a recycling rate three times higher than the average in England. The rate increased by over 10% from 38% to 48% waste recycled.

The residents were signed up to a recycling reward programme, and members were given the opportunity to vote on community projects that they felt deserved a £2,000 cash injection. The money for this came from tax savings on landfill sites.

Greenredeem believe that simply delivering rewards are not that effective on their own, but can be employed effectively when part of a much wider programme. Crumbie believes that any rewards should be invested back into the community as a whole, rather than to individual members.

He told Materials Recycling World, “this cycle of good must be reinforced by showcasing the difference collective green actions are having and then reinvesting back into the community.”

The British public are undoubtedly pro-recycling; with over 60% demanding that the government do more to incentivise recycling.

Councils across the country have installed their own recycling reward schemes, but they have focussed mostly on individual rather than community achievement. As the government pushes to reach the 50% recycling rate by 2020, it’s likely that we will see more and more of these recycling reward schemes. The question is, will they have as great an impact?

What do you think? Would a recycling scheme encourage you to recycle more? Let us know by visiting our Facebook page or leaving a comment in the comment box!

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