We are all pretty used to newspaper headlines about the cost to the environment of increasing levels of domestic waste and the pressures on local councils to deal with this, but are householders still motivated to help?

What is actually happening out there?

Well, it`s true, in general, that levels of recycling and the correct sorting of materials by households is now plateauing. Why?

Firstly, there is the number of different arrangements that councils have with collection and processing contractors, so householders get confused with what is and what isn`t collected at the kerbside and what is `take to` stuff.

.Secondly, there are so many different items for the householder to sort, from the obvious drinks cans to food leftovers and toothpaste tubes, that it really takes a lot of education about what goes in which container.

Thirdly, the case for all the benefits to householders has not, in my view, been made clear enough. Yes, managing your own `home` environment is really important if you want to have a good quality of living space, and yes, most of us would like to help protect the local environment, but what else?

There is another BIG benefit.

The financing of local council services is under extreme pressure with extra responsibilities being heaped on them, like providing huge increases in care places and social housing. Added to this are income constraints put on them by Central Government who want to minimise the cost of living inflation.

My point is that local residents can easily help the funding of their local services and restrain their council tax increases, at the same time, by recycling more.

The value of recycled materials can be considerable. A quick review of this reveals that although prices vary, many are high, e.g. aluminium drinks cans can fetch up to £1,000 per tonne, plastics up to £290, batteries up to £600, steel cans up to £130 per tonne and so on. So, it`s possible that recycling can generate increasing incomes for councils and this is without the `energy from waste` facilities that incinerate some materials and provide electricity that is sold to the National Grid.

Communication, communication, communication

I`m arguing that there is a real benefit for local householders in being more conscientious in their recycling as it really is going to help fund the provision of local services and help keep money in their pockets. What it needs is more explicit and more frequent communications to residents by local councils to harness this self-interest. So, let’s do it local councils !!!!!!


Dudley Masters, Account Director, Acumen Communications