3 Ways to Increase Recycling Rates
Sending zero waste to landfills is a goal that’s becoming increasingly more common. While waste-to-energy programs are now more popular than ever, combating waste begins with reducing the amount of waste produced. While this may have a certain “no duh” quality to it, it’s a bit more difficult than one might think. Getting people to recycle and reuse can be a challenge, especially for an already busy waste management company.
So, what are some ways to increase recycling and maintain efficiency?
Distribute bigger bins.
It may sound incredibly simple, but by giving people bigger bins can work wonders.
“With England’s highest recycling rates Rochford’s head of environmental services, Richard Evans, ascribes its scheme’s success to simplicity,” The Guardian’s Laura Laker writes. “The biggest bin outside homes is for recycling—240l compared with the 180l ‘residual bin’—which has helped shift mindsets. The 140l garden and kitchen compost bin is collected weekly and the others fortnightly, encouraging anything which could get smelly to be composted.”
This was also the case in Florida, where bigger bins were introduced.
"This should increase the amount of recycling in the county," Marathon Garbage owner Greg Konrath said. "Some people who didn't recycle before said the new bins are great."
Encouraging separation, and more of it, has proven to be an effective way of getting people to look at their waste production different and be more conscious of exactly what they’re throwing away. Plus, if they have more room to recycle, they’re more likely to.
Research from Greenredeem shows from 2010 to 2014, recycling doubled from 15 percent to 27 percent when people were provided with incentives.
“This research offers the evidence for local authorities that has so far been lacking: the carrot is more twice as effective as the stick at improving dry recycling rates,” Rob Crumbie, Greenredeem’s communications director, said. “It demonstrates that rewards programs have real impact on local dry recycling rates, as well as wider benefits for residents, local business and community causes. We would strongly encourage local authorities to adopt such schemes if they are serious at hitting the government target of a 50% recycling rate by 2020.”
There are businesses who have also begun offering discounts to those who recycling and local governments also reward its citizens. This is really basic human nature. We don’t like being told what to do, but are willing to do something if there’s a reward.
As simple as this sounds, it’s most definitely not. Educating people on better recycling practices requires a lot of work and goes beyond telling them, “Recycling is good!” Certain things can and can’t be recycled and it’s important to know which is which.
In Dedham, Massachusetts, they town is partnering with Waste Management to increase education. The Director of the Department of Public Works Joe Flanagan has several ideas for increasing educational outreach including television spots, mailers, and school announcements.
"The educational component is key," he said. "Because people have to recycle correctly."
In the end, it all comes back to reducing waste and by teaching people what goes where can help do so dramatically.
All but two UK regions failing on school energy efficiency
Most schools are still "treading water" on implementing energy efficient technology, according to new analysis of Government data from eLight.
Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil, cutting expenditure by 4.4% and 0.9% respectively. Every other region of England increased its average energy expenditure per pupil, with schools in Inner London doing so by as much as 23.5%.
According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.
Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said the figures demonstrate an uncomfortable truth for the education sector – namely that most schools are still treading water on the implementation of energy efficient technology. Energy efficiency could make a huge difference to meeting net zero ambitions, but most schools are still lagging behind.
“The solutions exist, but they are not being deployed fast enough," he said. "For example, we’ve made great progress in upgrading schools to energy-efficient LED lighting, but with 80% of schools yet to make the switch, there’s an enormous opportunity to make a collective reduction in carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy bills. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made."
He said while it has worked with over 300 schools, most are still far too slow to commit. "We are urging them to act with greater urgency because climate change won’t wait, and the need for action gets more pressing every year. The education sector has an important part to play in that and pupils around the country expect their schools to do so – there is still a huge job to be done."
North Yorkshire County Council is benefiting from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which has so far awarded nearly £1bn for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects around the country, and Craven schools has reportedly made a successful £2m bid (click here).
The Department for Education has issued 13 tips for reducing energy and water use in schools.