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Food waste collection boost in Gloucestershire

An initiative in Gloucestershire to boost food waste collection by 20% through a messaging campaign has achieved its goal.

In April 2015, the county’s Joint Waste Committee backed an initiative that involved placing ’No food waste please’ stickers on residual waste bins, and relaying associated messages to residents in the Cheltenham, Cotswold, Gloucester and Tewkesbury districts.

The £100,000 scheme was based on a business case with evidence from WRAP and the Somerset Waste Partnership which showed that, using such a strategy, the capture of food waste could be increased by at least 20% with pay-back within a year.

In a report to the committee, head of service Steve Read concluded that data from the collecting authorities indicated an increase of more than 20%, the project was delivered on budget and “the subsequent increase in food waste recycling has ensured that it is on track to pay back in less than a year”.

The key message was presented by means of a weatherproof permanent sticker carrying a clear, polite instruction. Supporting messages were provided on a card hanger which was placed on the handle of the bins.

Read indicated there were some initial practical issues in Gloucester and Cheltenham with contractors not distributing the stickers as planned, but he said very few customer complaints were received, the most common comment being that some people felt they were being singled out.

“This was anticipated, and a briefing note circulated to all customer contact centres in advance of the stickering allowed customer service officers to reassure individuals that they were not being singled out and that the message was aimed at all households,” he writes.

The committee is recommended to support the continued promotion, along with monitoring food waste recycling and waste data, to determine whether the project had had a knock-on effect to the levels of capture of other recyclable materials.

A ‘thank you’ message to households in the Cheltenham, Cotswold, Gloucester and Tewkesbury districts will be included on the back page of the council tax guide distributed in March.

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