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Wasting leaflets to ask residents about waste

A London Borough council which sent out 33,000 questionnaires to ask its residents about recycling only received 3,100 responses, meaning that over 29,000 questionnaires were wasted.

Lambeth Borough Councils recycling consultation saw only 9.4% of the leaflets returned as the majority of residents failed to respond to the questionnaire.

However, despite the wasted leaflets, Lambeth Council insists that targeting residents in this way was the most effective and response rates would have been even lower had they not sent out leaflets.

A council spokesman said: Its impossible to properly consult residents on important issues without using paper by only consulting via the website we would have excluded many residents, particularly older people, from having their say.

Increasing recycling is one of our absolute top priorities and this consultation was crucial in gathering information on recycling habits and public feedback on how we should increase recycling in the future, and we were satisfied with the response rate.

The results of the survey would seem to reflect this view with 65.5% of respondents saying that their preferred communication method for waste and recycling was via leaflets and letters through the door.

But some believed there was no need for Lambeth to conduct such a survey with it better to consult with residents face to face.

Recycling is a fairly straightforward thing so I am not sure why they need to spend all this money on asking people about it, said Green Party candidate for Dulwich and West Norwood Shane Collins.

It would be much better to speak to residents door to door or instead of asking busy householders, just check best practice in other areas.

Collins was also keen to emphasise the role of community groups in helping with this kind of research.

He said: The council could get community champions and people who are interested in recycling to interview residents about it and obviously pay them to do so.

Lambeth Council stood by its decision.

A spokesman said: Paper forms were by far the most popular way for people to respond, with 90% of people who responded using them, and we of course used recycled paper.

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