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Recycling in flats under the microscope

Research to examine barriers to recycling in blocks of flats in dense urban areas is being carried out with a leading housing association in London.

The focus of the research will be households in inner London boroughs, particularly those where there are large numbers of flats and lower levels of home ownership.

Researchers will spend time in residents’ homes to learn how recycling fits with everyday lives, the practical details of what and when they recycle as well as what motivates them to do it.

Later phases will include trying different approaches at inner London estates to see which interventions boost recycling.

The Peabody Housing Association is working with Resource London, a support programme for London’s waste authorities backed by the London Waste and Recycling Board and WRAP. The programme will run until 2020.

It is part of a wider £1m effort by Resource London to learn more about recycling behaviours in purpose-built flats.

Purpose-built flats make up 37% of London’s residential accommodation, and flat dwellers typically recycle half as much as those living in houses. The proportion of those living in flats in London is increasing: nearly all new-build properties are purpose-built flats and, by 2030, will account for 46% of London households.

London’s recycling rate, which rose last year from 32% to 33%, is well below the current English recycling rate of almost 44%.

Brendan Sarsfield, chief executive at Peabody, said: “This partnership is a great opportunity for us to talk to our residents about recycling services and find some practical solutions for achieving the capital’s recycling targets.”

Environment minister Therese Coffey highlighted the recycling rate in the borough of Newham, which has lowest in the country at just 14%.

“This needs to improve and, having initiated this important research partnership between Resource London and Peabody, I look forward to seeing the results as quickly as possible to understand what more can be done and how the Government can help.” 

Liz Goodwin, chair of the London Waste and Recycling Board, said the project would help to develop a new approach to providing recycling services in flats.

  • The photo shows Goodwin, Coffey and Peabody’s commercial director John Spillett

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