By Emma Gowing & Steve Watson | 17 November 2014
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This article was taken from Issue 78
It turns out that the tried and tested waste statistic hasn’t been all that tested – and others ought to be tried. Eunomia’s Emma Gowing and Steve Watson describe how to breathe new life into public engagement.
Did you know that if all the waste statistics published in 2013 were cut out and laid end to end, they would reach to the moon and back? Okay, we made that up, but no doubt you’ve heard many similar statements relating to numbers of cans landfilled, bottles recycled, and all manner of other waste-related data.
Eunomia was recently commissioned by the Welsh Local Government Association and public engagement body Waste Awareness Wales to review the waste statistics they currently use and to create a model for generating new, up-to-date and involving statistics for Wales. As part of this, we held a series of focus groups in Cardiff. There, we did something that is rarely if ever done: we showed members of the public different types of waste statistics to see if they worked. No council wants to spend money on ineffective communications; moreover, there are both cost savings and environmental gains to be made from increased participation in reuse and recycling services. So, what did we learn, and how can it help?