Recycling trial

Sign on street informing residents about the recycling trial

You might remember that I mentioned in my last ward report that Newham was running a recycling trial, which included many streets in Forest Gate North. This included offering residents on certain roads the chance to recycle a wider range of materials, and also feeding back to households when their recycling was ‘contaminated’ (normally dirty with something like left over food).

You can read all about the trial here on the Newham website:

That trial has now finished, but I wanted to use this quick blog post to highlight a couple of things.

Firstly that if your household took part, we are very keen to hear from you about your experience and your impressions of the trial. This information will help to shape the changes we plan to make to the whole service in spring next year. We also want to know more about how good and effective the communications sent to you were and what is important to our residents. There is a survey online which is on the Newham website and you’ll find it if you click the link above.

Secondly, we have some initial information from the trial, which I wanted to share as I am sure residents will be interested (as I was) to know some of the results:

‘Some of the key results from the trial this far are:

  • Recycling contamination dropped by around 5%. “Contamination” of recycling occurs when items are placed in the recycling that can’t be recycled – such as food, nappies or electrical items.
  • The number of households participating in the bin service remained the same but on the sack rounds this dropped by 12% indicating that the bin service is preferred by residents.
  • Zero corporate complaints received about the recycling contamination policy which saw bins left behind if they contained the wrong items.
  • During the trial c. 1.7% of bins or sacks were not collected per round due to contamination – around 20 bins out of 1100 per round.
  • During the 3 month trial 39 properties have had their recycling rejected three times & have been contacted to offer support.’

A recycling bin with a sticker advising that the bin contains non-recyclable material

I am a bit disappointed that the contamination rate only dropped 5%, but actually behaviour change is hard, and takes a long time – and of course our contamination is generally so bad that any change is a very good thing. I’m also very interested that there were no complaints from anyone when bins were left behind if they had the wrong items in. This is exactly why we ran a small trial as I would have guessed that doing this would be incredibly difficult and unpopular – which just goes to show that maybe I shouldn’t be so pessimistic!

The next step will be for officers, and the cabinet leads James Asser and Nilufa Jahan to look at all the results including the survey data in more detail, and to put together a proposal based on what we’ve learnt about how we can change and improve recycling across the borough.

Newham recycling rates have been absolutely abysmal for years, and I am so pleased that under Rokhsana’s administration we are trying to do something about it. There are several factors here in Newham which make improving rates substantially very difficult, including a transient population, many flats, lots of HMOs. But there is also, clearly, a big potential for improvement and also plenty of resident support to do more, particularly here in Forest Gate.

I’ll post again when I have any more information.

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