Horsham District Council (HDC) decided to undertake a short door stepping campaign with waste advisors to increase recycling and participation rates. HDC appointed Resource Futures to deliver the recruitment and training of the waste advisors. The project resulted in a 45% increase in recycling within the target areas and a reduction in contamination in Horsham’s lowest performing areas. These changes lead to potential savings of nearly £140,000 over a year.
The objective of the project was to:
Having delivered a successful waste advisor campaign for North Somerset Council, we were asked by Horsham District Council to assist in recruiting for its own project to increase recycling, and to decrease contamination and residual waste levels. Recruiting to undertake an informed role is not as easy as it sounds. Potential employees from the mainstream either feel it is too much for them to take on or there is general apathy to such opportunities. As part of the project preparations, we re-wrote the job description to increase it's appeal and undertook desktop research to identify potential rich streams for this type of role. Following that, we delivered a targeted recruitment campaign focusing on undergraduates and recent graduates - those who wanted to gain experience of this kind.
Once the four advisors had been recruited, we delivered a three day training programme.
To kick things off, volunteers received desk-based training on day one, with overviews and information about waste policy, Horsham’s recycling and refuse collection strategy, benefits of recycling, techniques for talking, barriers to participation and behaviour change tactics as well as Health and Safety measures.
On the second, consecutive training day, we took the advisors to the local Materials Recycling Facility to further inform and arm them with knowledge and insight about recycling. The rest of the day was spent canvassing out on the chosen streets. We shadowed the volunteers, providing on the job training and tips to ease the process.
The third training day focused on the council officers and on how to monitor the performance of the team to ensure they are performing as efficiently as possible. Basic data analysis techniques for canvassing data were also covered, to help Horsham DC make the most of data collected during the fieldwork.
For Horsham District Council, the outcomes have all been positive.
The project targeted over 14,000 properties – nearly 25% of the Horsham District, including all of the identified low performance areas (LPAs). The team covered all identified LPA’s, then moved on to new builds and flats.
Furthermore, the Council has achieved multiple savings across the project, including:
As seen above, the project is paying for itself and contributing to revenue through disposal savings and the RPM. After a business case was put forward, West Sussex Waste Partnership decided to fund the team for a further 12 months, working all over the county. In addition, the waste advisors have continued to perform their role, with an ongoing achievement and sense of a positive contribution to their local communities.
The scheme has been so successful that what was an initial 6-month campaign in a single district has now turned into an 18 month- county-wide programme due to increased recycling rates and lower contamination. The West Sussex Waste Partnership also won an award for its Homes of Multiple Occupancy Recycling Improvement Project, of which this was a part, at the letsrecycle.com 2017 Awards for Excellence in Recycling and Waste Management.
During a time of public sector cuts and pressure on communications budgets, Horsham District Council has demonstrated that investment in door-stepping provides multiple dividends: through financial performance, recycling rates, avoidance of landfill, environmental protection and collection efficiencies. Key to this is the recruitment of the right type of person and effective training (desk bound and on the job) with expert insight into behaviour change economics and recycling and waste policies.