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NRAs 2016 - Food Waste Initiative (Public Sector)

Winner: Rochdale Borough Council

Rochdale was the first English borough to introduce three-weekly residual waste collections along with weekly food waste collections. By widening the gap between refuse and food waste collections, the council has reversed the emphasis from waste to recycling.

To underpin this new dynamic, ‘tag teams’ followed residual waste crews on the first day of the launch. They attached tags to bins with a message reminding residents that their next refuse collection would be in three weeks. They also attached a sticker to the bin lid stating that no food waste should be put in it.

Before the launch, canvassers called at every house to educate residents about the service, supplying calendars and supporting leaflets. A comprehensive online and social media campaign also supported the service rollout.

The result is a dramatic 70% increase in bio-waste collections during the first three months of the new service. A comprehensive communications campaign supported the change in the service and ensured that residents received repeated messages about how it would work for them (see page 27).

A new waste management strategy underpinned the changes, and set a clear framework and mandate for officers to put in place all the necessary operational arrangements for launch.

This winner demonstrated significant risk-taking capability in several key areas to unlock significant behavioural change

Judges’ view

This set targets up to and including 2020, beginning with an overall recycling target of 45% in 2016-17. The crucial element to achieving this climb from the previous year’s recycling figure of 34% was the increase in food waste collections.

An innovative school campaign, supported by Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain, was also launched at local primary schools. Nadiya appealed to residents to make a ‘Recycling Pledge’ via video on a dedicated school campaign website.

A second video was produced to help the local black and minority ethnic community learn the ‘hows and whys’ of food waste recycling. The online video features a Muslim woman demonstrating how to recycle food, while a leading imam from Rochdale narrates the viewers through the process. Invitations to view the video were delivered to mosques and women’s groups throughout the borough.


  • Brighton & Hove City Council
  • Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council
  • North London Waste Authority
  • Warwickshire County Council
  • West of England Partnership
  • Woking Borough Council


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