Essex Councillors patrol the streets checking recycling

July 19, 2007 at 10:49 am

In the last decade recycling has gone from being an option to a requirement, and the government has created a number of bodies to regulate and improve recycling methods and services, all of them striving for continual improvements in the percentage of waste that the UK recycles every year. One such body, the Waste and Resources Action Plan (WRAP) was created in 2000 to develop recycling strategies. A separate branch of WRAP called ROTATE provides free advice for local authorities to manage their recycling services.

WRAP helps local authorities by providing a series of maps highlighting where some areas have succeeded in various schemes more than others. Statistics displaying how many kilograms of waste are produced in that area per year are highlighted. In 2004 the government set the target for local authorities at 30% of all household waste to be either recycled or composted by 2010.

Southend Council in Essex was assessed in 2005/06 and from 71,000 households the total amount of waste was 1200kg. With the Department of Food and Rural Affairs breathing down the necks of all local authorities, Southend’s own councillors may soon be taking to the streets themselves, going door to door, checking up on the bins of their residents.

Southend Council’s cabinet member responsible for public protection and waste disposal Ian Robertson told the Essex Echo that “Councillors should be out and about in the wards, learning the problems residents face…I would hope councillors would then be finding out why people are not bothering to recycle”. Mr Robertson then goes on to stress the importance education plays and suggested that residents might even need Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinators or other voluntary workers to visit households in order to answer any questions. Will it be long before our bins are under CCTV surveillance?

Lewisham Council in London introduced smaller wheelie bins, about three quarters of the standard size, in order to encourage recycling. Residents wouldn’t be able to fill them up with waste to the usual amount anymore.

Blaby District Council increased the price of their larger waste bins and the price of additional waste bags in order to sway people into recycling their waste.

Craven District Council launched a pilot scheme in 2005 whereby residents were required to fill a special blue-bag with recyclable paper and then at the end of the month one of the blue-bags would be selected at random and the household chosen would win a cash prize of £50. A similar scheme in York was launched and the Head of Waste Strategy Kirsty Walton said “Persuading people to change their behaviour is a challenge and recycling is no exception…we want to find new ways to encourage these people to get started”.

The award for most original method of all must go to Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council. They used an approach that pulled at the heart-strings somewhat more, running a series of TV adverts where children dressed as superheroes presented the message “It’s our future, please don’t throw it away”.

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