Targeted approach needed to motivate higher recycling levels

Councils and waste disposal authorities need to use different tactics and messages to encourage residents to do better on recycling, according to research published by the North London Waste Authority (NLWA).

Building on WRAP research and carried out between December 2012 and April 2013, the NLWA-commissioned study of north London residents’ recycling behaviour suggested that a targeted approach could increase recycling levels.

Birmingham research and consultancy practice M.E.L Research carried out qualitative research and looked at what motivates residents to recycle and also what the barriers are.

One of the main findings from the research is that that while individual local authorities are best placed to carry out “on the ground” engagement work with residents, waste disposal authorities (WDAs) can make a greater impact on recycling rates by focusing on area-wide communications.

The research made it clear that different tactics and messaging are needed for different groups – depending on how engaged in recycling different residents are.

Also, while traditionally council and WDA communications have focused on converting non-recyclers, the research suggested that greater improvements in overall recycling levels could be made in targeting those residents who are already engaged but who could do better.

“Our research suggests that some residents don’t recycle all the materials they could and they don’t recycle consistently, so there are big gains to be made here,” reflected councillor Clyde Loakes, chair of the NLWA.

“We know these residents want to be seen as recyclers – and they want to make a difference – so our communications activity this year will focus on providing them with practical advice and support to show them how easy it is to do more.”

Nick Warburton

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