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Recycling behaviour change 'needs focused reward schemes'

A Defra report has backed claims that recycling reward schemes in isolation will not result in lasting change, according to Greenredeem.

Rob Crumbie, Greenredeem communications director, said: “The reward itself is just the tip of the iceberg; residents must be engaged, supported, communicated with and educated in ongoing dialogue to create sustainable behaviour change.

“Furthermore, this cycle of good must be reinforced by showcasing the difference collective green actions are having and then reinvesting back into the community.”

Crumbie said Defra’s interim report on its ‘Waste Reward and Recognition Scheme’ reinforced Greenredeem’s experiences with reward schemes since 2009.

The report said recycling rates across England in recent years have gradually increased towards the 2020 50% target (See graph above).

However MRW reported that recycling rates have been flatlining in 2013 and Defra said reward and recognition schemes cannot be seen as a “quick fix”. Careful consideration is required for success as well as to be able to demonstrate that positive impact.

It said unless certain preconditions are in place the schemes stand little chance of demonstrating success. These include:

  • Stable, simple, easily accessible and effective service provision
  • Clear and strong communications tapping into different channels
  • In-depth knowledge of target audience
  • Tailored and regular recognition and feedback of service-use
  • Ability to demonstrate impact and attribution of rewards
  • Tailored assessment and careful selection of reward delivery mechanism.

Crumbie said Greenredeem’s strategy gives evidence that rewards can be powerful, if effectively applied as part of a wider recycling strategy.

The scheme works closely with its boroughs to “pinpoint” what rewards are most likely to encourage action. They also work with boroughs to communicate the benefits of these actions.

Crumbie cited the Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead where 60% of residents are registered to a reward prgramme. Here recycling rates increased three times faster than the average in England, from 37% to 48% over the last three years.

Subsequent landfill tax savings are already being invested back into the local community.

Greenredeem members then have the opportunity to vote on community projects they want to see receive a cash injection of up to £2,000.

Last year a survey revealed that 64% of people believe the Government should do more to incentivise recycling

Meanwhile, last September, Lord Robert Winston discussed behavioural change with MRW. He said: “The only thing that really affects behavioural change is money – and that’s a problem.”

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