As a `rich` country we have been on the waste reduction and recycling `journey` for some time. Typically, we generate 17.5 kilos of waste materials per week per household, expect someone else to collect it and process it – and still don`t have a thought for the sustainability of this service.There remains a lot to change as average recycling levels are still only around 44.2% in the UK (DEFRA,Dec.`15)
The problem, as I see it, is that waste and recycling `rules` are confusing and, most of us, are not properly informed or lazy or have too many other priorities.
What about the `rules`?
It`s not actually that simple to understand what goes in which container, or what is collected kerbside, or what has to be taken to a `bring` bank or municipal `tip`. This is partly because different councils have different contracts with environmental companies and their collections, processes and plants are often different. Fortunately services are beginning to be rationalised and unified, but this is going to take time as many supplier contracts have a way to run yet.
Does motivation take personal financial reward?
There is a scheme, adopted by some councils, that offers `local green points` to householders according to the volume of recycling that they achieve and these can then be spent in local stores. Maybe this is really the answer and we want only to respond to our own selfish interests?
Or does it need education and tapping of `pride` power?
What local government needs to do, I believe, is to make the `what`s wanted`, how it needs `sorting` and the `take to` options, very clear. Then it needs to tap the sense of personal and community pride that exists. This needs continuous engagement so that we can `embed` the needs and processes in our heads and to feel great about it.
So how can communications best help to achieve this?
Firstly, it`s really important that we build on the gradual attitude change that`s taking place. This needs to go from reluctant acceptance to recognition that we are responsible for our own spaces and environments using the wide range of help and services on offer to us… Yes, the public as a customer with choices to run their own lives for the better!
Secondly, it`s going to take the delivering of education and motivational messages through every media opportunity and for this to be maintained almost indefinitely as both households and processes change.
So, it`s yes to the excellent TV programmes that tell us how to minimise food waste, yes to regular door drop leaflets that tell us what, how and where, and yes to the use of social media that is informative and even entertaining. And, lets help `advocates` of recycling so they can use their social `communities` to make us feel more involved and ambitious.
Dudley Masters, Account Director, Acumen Marketing Communications