The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead has launched a new pilot scheme that moves from a dual bin system to a single-bin commingled system to reward households for recycling mixed waste.
Residents in Windsor and Maidenhead will be able to pocket up to an average of £130 a year in vouchers by putting paper, cardboard, plastic, glass and metal in a single blue wheelie bin.
The US-based RecycleBank scheme will see 3,700 households in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead earn vouchers for shops such as Marks & Spencer according to how much they recycle.
Under the scheme material is collected by the council via its waste contractor Veolia Environmental Services. The material is weighted and scanned using identification equipment in bins. Each household bin is given a unique code that matches the household address and identification number. RecycleBank reward points are then allocated based on the weight of the bin and the points can then be used to buy goods and services from participating shops and businesses or can be donated to charity. Households volunteered to participate in the trial.
Launching the scheme, RecycleBank president told Matt Tucker MRW: Most people have the general idea that recycling is important but they forget it sometimes or the kids are not home to remind them. We are the guys in the back saying we are constantly going to remind you that this is important because we are going to reward you for something that you should be doing.
Tucker added that Halton Borough Council based in Widnes, Merseyside, will start a similar trial in mid-October and that he is in talks with some local authorities in London.
A RecycleBank spokeswoman said that the council had placed a £130 cap on the system so that people were encouraged not to abuse the system. Spot checks will be carried out to catch people who try to exploit the system by putting heavy non-recyclable items into their recycling bins. Those who do exploit the system will find warning stickers on their bins or be given warning letters, and for repeated offences could lose their entitlement to vouchers.
Veolia Environmental Services deputy chief executive Paul Levett said: The key to reaching higher recycling rates is to tap into reluctant recyclers by making it easier and rewarding for them to get involved. Mixed recycling collections encourage higher participation since the system makes it easier for the user to know what items can or cannot be recycled and where to put them. The technology is proven, robust and fit for purpose, so there really are no barriers to improved recycling rates.
Windsor and Maidenhead launched an initial pilot of the scheme in June to cover green waste collections. More than 50 per cent of the 2,800 residents invited to participate in the green waste pilot had activated their accounts in two months.
Speaking to MRW, Conservative Party MP for Maidenhead Theresa May said: The scheme is very good because by rewarding people, it is incentivising people to recycle. The other thing, I think is an incentive is the fact that there is a single bin, so all the material is going in one bin. People will not think Oh no, I have got to sort it all out and does this go here or does that go there. So, I think that is the other aspect that makes it easier for people and I think it is important to encourage people to recycle.
Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead cabinet member for sustainability Councillor Liam Maxwell said: The appetite to recycle more is clearly there and using the carrot, not the stick, is our way of energising the community and bringing meaningful benefits to households and local businesses. The RecycleBank scheme is a pioneering step forward. We are proud to be the first in the UK and hope that other local authorities will follow our approach across the country.
Example Voucher: Marks & Spencer
Households can swap 150 RecycleBank points for a £5 voucher to use with their next purchase of £25 or more on food and 130 RecycleBank points for a £5 voucher to use with their next purchase of £35 or more on clothing, home or beauty spend at M&S stores.