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Incentives 'twice as likely' to improve recycling rates

Local authorities who have used an incentive scheme for recycling can see dry recycling rates increase twice as much as those that do not, it is claimed.

New research by Greenredeem, a company that rewards people for everyday green actions, shows rates from 2010 to 2014 increased by 27% compared with those with a ‘compulsory’ recycling strategy (15%).

Greenredeem claims the research “clearly demonstrates” that a proactive approach is the most effective in altering behaviour and improving rates.

Rob Crumbie, communications director at Greenredeem said: “This research offers the evidence for local authorities that has so far been lacking: the carrot is more twice as effective as the stick at improving dry recycling rates.

“It demonstrates that rewards programmes have real impact on local dry recycling rates, as well as wider benefits for residents, local business and community causes. We would strongly encourage local authorities to adopt such schemes if they are serious at hitting the government target of a 50% recycling rate by 2020.”

Meanwhile, Local Green Points has launched a mobile app called Local Rewards designed to help members find businesses that have signed up to offer discounts as part of recycling and composting schemes.

Graham Simmonds, managing director at Local Green Points said: “This app will help members take advantage of the full range of discounts available to them. This is great news for residents as they get exclusive discounts and great news for businesses as they get extra promotion.”

The Greenredeem report was presented at the Larac conference, about which the consultantcy Eunomia tweeted:

Readers' comments (2)

  • Well, there's a surprise - survey by company promoting incentives finds incentives work.
    It would be more persuasive if an independent survey were to show this - so far, anecdotal evidence is that they don't make any difference.

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  • Is there actually any research? I can't find a link to a document. It is true that since Windsor and Maidenhead adopted incentives for recycling, their absolute and relative recycling performance has improved. But most of that improvement was clearly due to the extension of the recycling service. That is consistent with the published research which shows clearly that the most powerful drivers of increased recycling are - socio- demographic factors, constrained capacity for residual waste and extensive capacity for recycling. Of course behaviour change is important and incentives which address the specific barriers to recycling in an area may be an option worth considering alongside other behavioural change options. But any authority which believes that incentives alone can transform recycling rates is heading for a big disappointment.

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