February 2014

Eunomia and Serco Launch Recycling Incentives Report

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Yesterday Eunomia and Serco launched a new report, Investigating the Impact of Recycling Incentives Schemes, at City Hall, London. The report is the outcome of research looking at the costs and benefits of recycling incentive schemes and an analysis of the evidence regarding their efficacy. Based on local authority interviews and waste data flow information, the evidence suggests that impacts tend to be marginal.

James Fulford, Director at Eunomia, commented:

“Giving residents ‘rewards’ for kerbside recycling may be politically attractive but the evidence from our research is that these schemes are unlikely to achieve more than a marginal impact on recycling rates. Some of the cheaper schemes may be able to demonstrate value for money, but none of the schemes for which we saw data – and we looked pretty hard – appeared to be cost effectively increasing recycling captures.

“Other types of incentive scheme – Deposit Refund Schemes and Pay As You Throw – have a much better international pedigree in terms of the impact they have. It’s disappointing that our policy-makers have turned away from this evidence and are instead promoting counter-productive weekly refuse collections and relatively ineffective reward schemes.”

Both a short summary and a detailed report are available for download.

The report was undertaken in parallel with a Defra-commissioned review of the same subject matter by Brook Lyndhurst, supported by the department’s Reward and Recognition Fund, which was published in December 2013 and produced largely similar findings.