Hackney has taken a tough stance on recycling by introducing compulsory recycling today. In an attempt to hit its recycling target, persistent non-recyclers could face fines of up to £1000.
According to the latest official figures (2004/05) from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Hackney’s recycling rate was 12.2%. The council now puts its rate at 17.5% - still short of its target of 18%, the minimum recycling target in the country.
Having watched the success of Barnet’s pioneering compulsory recycling scheme, and failing to raise its recycling rates to target-level using methods such as incentive schemes and competitions, Hackney decided radical action was needed.
“We needed to get the message through in starker terms,” said Hackney councillor Jessica Crowe.
Hackney “tweaked” Barnet’s recycling model slightly, to take into account the borough’s varied population housing several ethnic minority groups.
The new scheme, being trialled in four wards at all street-level properties, will require residents to put their cans, paper and glass in their green recycling boxes for collection.
Crowe explained that in the months leading up to the launch of the scheme, residents received a user-friendly letter, containing pictures, frequently asked questions, and the option of receiving the information translated into one of the borough’s 11 community languages.
Reminders about the scheme were also mail-dropped in the form of eye-catching postcards, information leaflets, road shows, a wraparound on the council’s borough-wide newspaper Hackney Today, advertisements in the ethnic community press, and an ongoing door-knocking campaign.
Hackney hopes that like Barnet, prosecution won’t be necessary. If after about a month, residents still fail to use their recycling boxes they will receive reminder letters, and possibly visits from recycling officers.
Crowe said the scheme would be assessed after about 6 months, and if successful rolled-out borough-wide. She hopes it will help push recycling rates into the twenties.