A scheme launched by North Somerset Council supported by environmental consultancy Resource Futures has prompted an increase in recycling to 60% in the area over the last 12 months. The ‘Don’t Waste It’ campaign launched in September 2013 with a team of 10 dedicated waste advisors visiting around 25,000 properties in North Somerset over a three-month period.
Before the launch of the scheme, North Somerset Council’s £4m a year waste disposal bill was set to rise by £400,000 if action was not taken. The aim of the scheme was to engage with residents to promote recycling and reduce the council’s annual waste bill.
Resource Futures recruited, trained and managed the waste advisors. The advisors spoke to residents to ensure they were fully aware of the recycling service, what could be recycled, which containers to use and understood the importance of recycling, both financial and environmental. They also logged barriers and suggestions for improvement, as well as providing residents with any recycling and food waste containers they needed. The scheme had an immediate impact, with a 5.4% decrease in residual waste, whilst recycling increased by 5.7% in October 2013 to March 2014 compared to the same time period in 2012/13.
“We are delighted with the results which show how important engagement is to elicit positive behaviour change,” commented Coralline Guillon, Consultant at Resource Futures. “Part of the success is in recruiting the right people to take on the responsibility of chatting to householders in a way that encourages individuals to take action. Working with North Somerset Council has been a great partnership of expertise.”
Recycling survey and parish scheme
Research has shown that 50% of residual waste could be recycled. If all recyclable waste was actually recycled, this would save North Somerset Council £1.5m a year. To work towards this aim, the council is now working in partnership with Weston College to carry out survey work and door-stepping in areas where greater participation is needed. The ultimate aim of this partnership is to change residents’ attitudes and behaviours around waste management, and to promote re-use and recycling.
Reducing waste is everyone’s responsibility, and the council will be working closely with parish councils to take action locally. With information provided by the council, parish councillors will encourage residents in their communities to recycle more and reduce the amount of waste being thrown away.
“As a local authority dealing with the ongoing pressure of rising waste bills and volumes, we are delighted with the impact of the waste advisors programme. Working with Resource Futures has enabled us to avoid a potential extra cost burden on our local taxpayers,” said Cllr Peter Bryant, North Somerset Council’s executive member for recycling and waste. “Working with Weston College and parish councils, we will continue to seek to drive our recycling rate up and residual waste down.”
Resource Futures is an independent environmental consultancy that promotes effective and efficient re-use of resources, with the aim of promoting a circular economy that minimises the environmental effects of consumption and production. Working with both businesses and government bodies, Resource Futures helps clients to better use material resources and encourage sustainable practices.