Increasing Torbay’s food waste recycling with ‘Monster Bins’
Torbay Council wanted to engage with families to increase food waste recycling at home and sought to do so through an established link with Resource Futures Education team in Devon. The project was designed to be fun for children, featuring a ‘Monster’ that ‘eats’ waste food. the project involved active assemblies for the children and follow up food caddy give-aways to parents at the end of the school day
The project aimed not only to raise the profile of Torbay’s food waste recycling scheme, but also to increase participation and encourage more families to start using their food recycling caddy at home.
It was hoped that this highly engaging and innovative project would have longevity and give a real boost to the volume of food waste collected at kerbside.
The ‘Monster Bin’ project was launched in April 2017. Schools were chosen based on their proximity to areas identified by Torbay Council’s Recycling Officer as having lower than average food waste recycling rates.
To accompany a series of assemblies, a children’s story book was written by the team, illustrated by a professional illustrator and printed by the Council. The assemblies looked at recycling and waste in general and then acted out the story, with the food eating monster recreated by one of the team in a monster suit.
At the end of the assemblies the children were all given a take-home bag with an activity sheet, set of monster stickers for decorating the child’s food recycling caddy at home and the illustrated story book about the food waste eating monster.
The delivery of the project in schools began in Autumn 2017 and was timed to coincide with door-stepping by Resource Future’s Waste and Recycling Advisor in the areas identified for the assemblies. The assemblies were followed up by the visits to the school one or two days later with food recycling caddies to give away to parents/families who didn’t have one at home already.
This case study demonstrates the effectiveness of using targeted schools work to boost participation in services over a short period of time especially if this is combined with wider household engagement.
The project delivered 16 assemblies to 16 pre-selected schools, engaging with 4,426 children. In addition, 554 parents were engaged with at schools’ premises and 519 food recycling caddies and 357 food recycling bins were distributed.
Torbay Council reported a 19%1 increase in food waste tonnages in the areas the Monster Bin assemblies were delivered in the following weeks.
 The measurement technique has not been confirmed by the council, but it assumed to be set-out of food waste bins at the kerbside by residents.