13 February 2019 by Joshua Doherty

Resource London details ‘challenge’ in flats recycling

A partnership programme between the London Waste & Recycling Board (LWARB) and WRAP has published insights from its research into improving recycling rates in flats.

Resource London launched its two year project with the Peabody Housing Association last year (see letsrecycle.com story), which looked at ways to develop “innovative solutions to tackle some of the barriers” faced by London residents recycling in flats.

The LWARB project involved testing different recycling interventions in flats across six inner London boroughs

Resource London said that some of the common challenges which have emerged in the research have included space constraints in homes, the condition and location of communal bins on estates, and continuing confusion about what can be recycled.

Taking place on 12 housing estates across six inner London boroughs, the project has been testing different recycling interventions so that the successful initiatives can be replicated elsewhere.

So far, according to Resource London, the research has found that three factors – motivation, ease and knowledge – are all “necessary conditions for improving recycling rates in flats but are not always addressed fully by those delivering waste services”.


The report added that while many people living in flats and estates are keen to recycle, they don’t always feel that it is easy enough to do so or that they have the right knowledge to recycle effectively.

Interventions being tested include ‘tenant recycling packs’, which are  provided by landlords to explain what items they expect their tenants to recycle and what happens to their recycling. This aims to address the fact that many residents don’t feel responsible for recycling and properly disposing of their waste

Other solutions include emotive messaging around communal areas  to help residents feel more responsibility and motivation for recycling, and more smaller recycling bins around an estate, to make recycling more accessible and convenient.

Feedback mechanisms “to show residents their recycling efforts are appreciated” and in-home storage solutions have also been tested out.


Purpose-built flats make up 37% of London’s residential accommodation, according to data from the Greater London Authority – with flats accounting for up to 80% of households in some boroughs.

The percentage of people living in purpose built flats in London is also set to rise, with nearly half (46%) set to be living in purpose built flats by 2030.

Gemma Scott, flats project manager for Resource London, said: “As the number of people living in flats increases, it’s more important than ever to make recycling from those properties easy and achievable.

“Initial signs from the pilots are promising, and the project will give us important insights into how we can overcome people’s barriers to recycling which can then be shared and replicated by others in London and beyond.”

Resources minister Thérèse Coffey (fourth from left) visited an estate in Tulse-Hill, Lambeth, which was part of the project

In terms of the project’s impact, Resource London said that initial results have been positive, however a full breakdown of results is expected as the project progresses.

“A full waste composition analysis in June this year will provide more definitive results and recommendations, which will then be published and shared more widely,” Resource London said.

Clyde Loakes, chair of the Resource London partnership board and deputy leader of Waltham Forest Borough council, said: “This project shows that when we think differently and work collaboratively, we can deliver genuinely innovative changes to the services we provide. I’m optimistic that the interventions we’ve introduced will help us learn some valuable lessons over the next few months, and improve recycling for everyone living in flats.”


Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy, Shirley Rodrigues, added: “The Mayor is committed to doing all he can to help London’s boroughs raise their recycling rates and has set a target for the capital to achieve 65% municipal waste recycling by 2030.

“Improving recycling performance in flats across London is crucial and the insights from this research should be valuable in helping local authorities improve their services. This project is already having a positive impact and we look forward to seeing the final results and recommendations.”

Following on from the initial results of the project Resource London is launching a communications toolkit for other waste authorities considering improvements to their flats service.


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