In 2017-18 Resource London established a new three-year, £1million flats initiative, to reinvigorate London’s household recycling efforts for residents living in purpose-built flats, specifically targeting housing estates and large blocks of social housing.
To determine the impact of this project, Resource Futures is delivering an extensive monitoring and evaluation programme including tonnage monitoring and waste composition analysis of the waste and recycling produced by 1,600 households in selected estates.
Although considerable effort and a large amount of resources has been invested in trying to increase recycling in flats (in London as well as the rest of the country), this has delivered little demonstrable change. Importantly, there is still a lack of quality monitoring and evaluation data and understanding of the effectiveness of various interventions.
The evaluation of the project is based on a theory-based evaluation using a case study approach to underpin a Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA). QCA is suited for evaluating complex interventions where many factors may contribute to outcomes. It is also well suited to dealing with data ‘noise’ and ‘wicked issues’ where complexity is introduced by external factors outside the project’s scope of influence.
The aim of the first phase of work was to establish a strong baseline against which to monitor and evaluate the interventions to be rolled out in 2018.
Following the Estate Inventories project, Resource Futures has extensive knowledge about each of the Peabody Estates selected for the project.
To avoid some of the difficulties with data ‘noise’ experienced in the past, Resource Futures put together a robust methodology which allowed us to have as much control and oversight over monitoring as is practically feasible to ensure high quality outputs. We fully briefed the boroughs and their waste contractors, as well as the estate caretakers and area managers to ensure that they were fully engaged and aware of the importance of the project to try and manage any risks from the outset.
Our monitoring and evaluation activities included:
- Waste weight monitoring – of tonnages produced by each estate data over an eight-week period.
- Waste composition data – collection and analysis of a full weeks of waste from each estate.
Collected data was used to calculate the recycling rate, capture rate and contamination rate for each case study estate.
The first phase of the work set the baseline ahead of the roll-out of the interventions and found that there was large scope for improvement of recycling performance.
The work will be repeated following the interventions to measure any differences in performance.
The results of this initiative could have impacts beyond London as ways of improving recycling in dense urban areas are being looked at across the country.
The partnership will run until 2020 as part of the wider £1 million programme of work focusing on improving recycling in purpose-built flats.
For more information about the programme visit the Resource London website.