How to increase recycling rates in social housing

A lot of the social housing companies we work with are keen to explore how to improve the recycling rates among their residents, and with good reason. Recycling has a big impact on sustainability, health and safety, and finances.


There are also Government and local council goals to consider. In 2018 the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, set a goal of 50% of local authority collected waste to be recycled by 2025 and a desire to achieve 50 per cent of household waste by 2030, in order to help the city reach a municipal target of 65 per cent.


However, concerns were raised last year that the target would be unobtainable because each borough council has its own policies on what can and cannot be recycled. This understandably leads to confusion for everyone, not only social housing residents.


An additional problem that social housing operators face is fly-tipping and littering. These operators have a responsibility to remove rubbish, wherever it is. Unfortunately the perpetrators know this so may dump rubbish in a car park or communal area, knowing it will be removed. This results in a lot of materials that could be recycled being taken to landfill. Furthermore, it can present a health and safety issue as well as be an eyesore and financial burden to leaseholders and tenants alike.


We use our expertise and industry knowledge to help social housing operators tackle this issue. For example, we know that people living in social housing flats are less likely to recycle than those in houses. This type of insight enables us to create targeted engagement campaigns and identify priority actions.


Engagement with residents is a key element of any campaign. Through projects like Renovo, our joint venture with One Housing, we are already highly engaged with many residents by helping them find employment and providing training opportunities.


We can use these relationships to have open conversations about why residents do or don’t recycle, the major sticking points for them and what they would suggest to make it easier. It’s essential to have that input, otherwise any solutions we present are more in hope than expectation.


Ideas might be created such as a dedicated recycling area in a car park; using bins that are clearly labelled and colour coded; and sending letters and emails to residents that clearly explain the recycling system and why it’s beneficial to them. It’s important to illustrate the benefits, so everyone buys in to the culture and supports recycling and sustainability. An example of this would be to explain that recycling is cheaper than sending waste to landfill, resulting in the housing operator being able to save money and reinvest elsewhere in the site.


We love helping our clients tackle their waste management issues as it chimes with two of our core values – sustainability and social value. Contact us today to find out how we can support your waste management and recycling processes.

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