Resource Use

Windsor and Ealing incentivise recycling

The Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead has today (18 December) launched a new scheme that enables residents to use their recycling reward points to help fund community projects.

The £20,000 scheme (funded through the council’s participatory budget) builds on the existing recycling points scheme administered by Greenredeem (formerly Recyclebank).

Those who are signed up to the scheme gain points either through the weight of their recycling (blue recycling bins are fitted with a small electronic tag that links to equipment in collection vehicles and ensures the weight of the recycling is registered and points awarded), or, for those without an individual recycling bin (such as those living in flats), through a share of the total amount that was recycled in the area.

Community projects can receive up to £1,000 in recycling points

Residents currently receive points for recycling, which can then be used for rewards such as discounts at national and local businesses and special offers.

However, from today, residents can also donate their points to a local organisation bidding for cash in the council’s neighbourhood budget scheme.

The scheme gives local organisations and charities the chance to net up to £2,000 in funding from the council’s participatory budget by putting their projects online and encouraging members of the public to vote.

Every two months, the projects with the highest number of votes are awarded the funding (with the possibility of a further financial boost of up to £2,000 in match funding).

Through the changes to the Greenredeem scheme however, these projects can also receive up to a maximum of £1,000 from recycling points.

‘First time’ points have been used in such a way

Council Leader and Chairman of the Cabinet Participatory Budget Sub Committee, Councillor David Burbage, said: “Many local people have mentioned that they would like to donate their points to good causes rather than converting them into the usual discounts and special offers – so we have taken up the challenge and worked with Greenredeem to devise a scheme that will enable them to do just that.

“With 200 points worth £1, each project can benefit up to a maximum of £1,000 – another good reason for bidding organisations to rally their supporters and encourage them to vote.

“In this case points really do mean prizes for the organisations that attract residents’ support.”

Councillor George Bathurst, Cabinet Member for Policy and Performance, added: “This is the first time nationally that reward points have been used in a participatory budget scheme, and we have high hopes that it will mean much-needed extra cash for local good causes and projects that need relatively small amounts of money to help them succeed. Taken together, the collective benefit to the local community has the potential to be huge.”

Greenredeem said it was ‘delighted’ to help the Royal Borough reward community projects, with Rob Crumbie, Communications Director for Greenredeem, adding: “Inspiring residents to help create a better future is really important to increasing recycling rates, and being able to directly support local projects is another way of motivating people to take green actions.”

The recycling rewards points donation scheme can be accessed via the ‘Your Local Budget’ page on the council website.

Ealing Borough Council to start Greenredeem scheme

In related news, Ealing Borough Council is also set to launch a recycling reward scheme with Greenredeem from ‘spring 2014’.

Funded through the council’s £1.1 million grant from the Department for Communities and Local Government’s Weekly Collection Support Scheme, the system aims to encourage recycling and reduce waste.

Ealing Council has said it hopes the initiative will help the authority achieve its commitment to recycle 50 per cent of its waste by 2020 (its current recycling rate is 41 per cent).

Under the initiative, every household that recycles and minimises its waste will be rewarded points that can be exchanged for vouchers to spend in local shops and leisure facilities as well as national businesses.

Every Ealing household registering to take part will be given 100 points and will earn 50 more points for visiting the website to learn about the scheme.

For every week that a person tells Greenredeem that they have recycled, they will earn 10 points. A bonus will be given to all residents that have reported their recycling, based on the weight collected in the community, and will also include an element for a reduction in the amount of waste collected.

Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport at Ealing Council, said: “I am delighted that we are introducing a new residents’ rewards scheme for those who recycle. Being green will now be good for your pocket with discounts at local and national stores. There will also be opportunities to support local charities.”

Crumbie added: “Ealing Council is our fifth local authority partner in the UK, and we are extremely excited to be working with it.

“The scheme offers real benefits for everyone involved and we look forward to supporting both residents and local businesses.”

 Greenredeem has similar schemes in Wokingham Borough Council, Halton Borough Council and Lambeth Council.

A quarter of people would recycle more if rewarded

The news follows on from Greenredeem’s ‘Rewards & Recycling: How incentives may have the answer for a ‘zero waste economy’ in the UK’ white paper (written in partnership with environmentalist Toni Juniper), which found that almost a quarter of people (24 per cent) said they would recycle more if they were to receive something tangible in exchange, such as vouchers, money, or money off goods and services.

Further to this, 72 per cent believed that ‘companies and central and local government should reward people for green actions’, while 27 per cent of people said they currently do not recycle because they receive no personal reward.

‘Unclear’ if incentive schemes ‘lead to fundamental changes in behaviour’

The effectiveness of incentive schemes such as this have been called into question, though, with environmental consultancy agency Pelican PR arguing in May 2011 that they have ‘considerable drawbacks’ and ‘cannot replace the long-term communication with residents that underpins the success of many recycling schemes’.

The agency expressed concerns that whilst incentive schemes are ‘initially effective’, it is ‘unclear whether they lead to fundamental changes in behaviour’, adding that weight-based schemes in particular can create perverse consequences such as ‘individuals deliberately generating more waste to maximise their rewards’. Likewise, the schemes could also encourage residents to use their vouchers to purchase goods they don’t need, another outcome that could have negative impacts on the environment.

Read more about Greenredeem.