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Recycling in high-rise flats needs 'robust' action

flats capital views

Work to boost the quantity and quality of recyclate coming out of high-rise blocks of flats will be evaluated and published by the autumn.

Resource London, the partnership programme between the London Waste & Recycling Board (Lwarb) and WRAP, has been looking at ways to improve the recycling rates of flats, with qualitative research into how flat-dwellers view recycling, and the issues and pressures they face.

It has been collaborating with Peabody Housing Association, and has already published a number of key insights into the work under the Recycling in Real Life study for local authorities and suggested interventions.

These included: providing tenant recycling packs; emotive messaging in communal areas to motivate people to recycle; more smaller recycling bins; feedback mechanisms to show residents their efforts were appreciated; and in-home waste storage solutions.

Baseline recycling figures for the 12 housing estates across the six inner London boroughs included in the study were just 10.7% once contamination had been removed. However, Resource London will be following up what impact its interventions have made, with results due out in August/September.

Lwarb head of communications Ali Moore said: “A high percentage of all the new building that is being applied for through City Hall are high rise flats and we know they are really difficult to get recycling out of.

“Some boroughs have housing that is already more than 80% flats. In other areas, such as in the suburbs, this is still likely to be approaching 40%.

“It is an increasing problem and, when flats [produce] significantly less recycling, it’s a big issue.”

Moore said the problem was high-rises producing low quantities and poor quality recycling, and little “robust” work had been done previously in this area.

There were three phases to Resource London’s work. In the first stage, 32 people submitted written tasks, selfie videos and photos to the research teams. Four respondents then took part in a remote observational study, involving placing two webcams in their kitchens for up to two weeks. Finally, 16 face-to-face interviews were carried out, looking at a range of issues such as weekly routines, social groups, recycling practices and bin journeys.


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