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Being smarter about high-rise recycling

People living in flats in London say it is not easy enough to recycle and they do not have the right knowledge to do so, new research reveals.

Resource London, a partnership between London Waste & Recycling Board and the charity WRAP, worked with selected groups of residents on 12 housing estates to assess the issues that need to be addressed if recycling rates in flats are to improve.

Its report on these pilot schemes says motivation, ease and knowledge are three key factors necessary for improving recycling rates in flats but those delivering waste services do not always properly address them.

Flats present various challenges, including space constraints in people’s homes, the state and location of communal bins on estates, and continuing confusion about what residents can and cannot recycle where they live.

Initial results from the pilots, which began in September 2018, are said to be showing positive impacts, with the overall recycling and capture rates appearing to improve and contamination coming down. An analysis will be carried out at the end of the project in June this year.

Resource London collaborated with Peabody Housing Association, a leading property owner, to develop innovative solutions. These include:

  • Tenant recycling packs – provided by landlords to explain what items they expect their tenants to recycle and what happens to their recycling
  • Emotive messaging around communal areas – large posters to help residents feel more responsibility and motivation
  • More, smaller recycling bins – conveniently located smaller bins around the estate to make recycling more accessible and convenient
  • Feedback mechanisms – to show residents that their recycling efforts are appreciated
  • In-home storage solutions – a space-saving hook and bag system to help residents find space in the home to store recycling

Gemma Scott, flats project manager for Resource London, says: ‘Initial signs from the pilots are promising, and the project will give us important insights into how we can overcome people’s barriers to recycling which can then be shared and replicated by others in London and beyond.’

James Glass, head of estate services at Peabody Housing Association, adds:‘We know that people lead busy lives and juggle different pressures, so it is crucial that we find simple, convenient and effective interventions to help make recycling the norm for all of our residents.’

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