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Targeted campaigns boost recycling in Ealing

A council in west London has managed to achieve an annual 3 percentage point increase in recycling rates thanks to targeted communication campaigns, a cabinet member has said.

Some 44% of waste was recycled in Ealing in 2013-14, up from 41% the year before.

Data for England for the period is not available yet, but statistics recently released by Defra suggest annual recycling rates in the country are stalling at around 42%.

Ealing’s recycling rate is also higher than the average in the capital, where only around 34% of waste was recycled last year.

Ealing council cabinet member for environment and transport Bassam Mahfouz (pictured), told MRW that the increase was mainly the result of awareness campaigns focussed on low recycling areas.

The local authority identified that one of the main hindrances to participation was a language barrier, for example in Southall, which is home to a large South Asian community.

Council staff with minority language abilities were sent to 2,000 properties in the area as part of a door-to-door knocking exercise, said Mahfouz.

Recycling messages were also spread using posters and aired on the local radio.

“Even if the message is translated on paper [on leaflets] a lot of people might ignore it, the door stepping campaign with people that could speak those languages was really useful in terms of explaining to residents what recycling means,” said Mahfouz.

On the back of the initiative in Southall, the requests for recycling containers increased by 350%.

Mahfouz said the council had spent £4470 to fund the initiative, but had already covered the cost: the additional 815 tonnes recycled in 2013-14 allowed the local authority to save £85,575 in landfill charges.

He would encourage other local authorities to engage in similar communication activities. “It pays for itself,” he said.

  • Ealing council introduced a recycling rewards programme in April after receiving a £1.13m grant from the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Photo by John Sturrock. Used with permission of Around Ealing magazine.

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