Working to move communities up and forward in Greater Manchester

A '#RubbishSelfie' campaign, a golden tag initiative and engaging with religious leaders are just some of the ways that the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority (GMWDA) is communicating with its 'hard-to-reach' communities to increase levels of recycling and prevent waste. GMWDA's Clare Standish explores further.

GMWDA has found that despite ongoing engagement, certain sectors of the population, termed ‘hard-to-reach communities’ are still not recycling to their full potential. These communities often have characteristic barriers which prevent them from accessing and adopting recycling messages which the majority of society can.

The ‘Up and Forward’ project, supported by the European Union’s environment funding programme LIFE+, has been developed to enable GMWDA to take a focussed approach and work with these communities to find a solution to recycling issues. The project has been developed to deliver 42 campaigns based on four demographic types/themes (deprivation, transience, faith and culture and apartments) that have been linked to low performing hard-to-reach communities across Greater Manchester. Here, I analyse the four themes.

Deprivation: Communities characterised by low incomes, and access to limited education and opportunities.

To appeal to the communities under this theme one of the campaigns is using the incentive of golden tags to encourage residents to recycle.

Golden tags are attached to those bins which are put out for collection on the correct day with the right items in them. Tags can then be donated to the primary school in exchange for funding for environment kit.

Early indications show that this scheme has been very successful, increasing recycling in one area by 17% on average across all waste streams.

Transience: Communities characterised by a high level of movement.

This theme includes two student focussed campaigns; one of these campaigns has used the viral platform of Facebook to encourage students to become familiar with their local recycling bin and to recycle more.

The #RubbishSelfie campaign encourages students to take a selfie of themselves when recycling and enter this on to the campaign Facebook page.

Every week a student can win a prize donated by a local business or restaurant. This has generated a lot of interest even being extended to include textile recycling during the end of term clear out. This campaign will start again this month aimed at encouraging the new wave of Fresher’s to recycle.

Faith and Culture: Communities characterised by a strong faith or cultural belief.

This theme involves campaigns which also focus on engaging with those organisations which are important to that community, i.e. mosques/churches, community centres. For example, as part of the faith campaign in Glodwick, Oldham – a mainly Muslim area, engagement with religious leaders gained support of the local mosques.

Engagement with them and the community led to communications materials being developed specifically for their needs including quotes from the Quran which they felt were important in highlighting the importance of the recycling message. This has led to greater coverage and greater understanding of recycling, with recycling participation levels increasing as much as 14% in one waste stream.

Apartments: Communities characterised by limited access to recycling facilities and structural barriers.

Under this theme campaigns aim to tackle the physical barriers to recycling as well as the social barriers found in apartments. There is a strong focus on embracing new innovative media channels. Manchester Metropolitan University computing students have developed a free game app called ‘Getting Wasted’ which teaches students what they can recycle in a fun and addictive way. This is available on all major platforms.

Overall, Up and Forward has proven that focussed engagement with individual communities is beneficial; it provides information which would not normally be accessible and aids the increase in recycling levels.

Clare Standish is dissemination officer at the GMWDA. She will be speaking at the Local Authority Theatre on 18 September at RWM 2014

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie