Could gamification improve recycling rates?

by | Jan 17, 2018 | Comment, Recycling

A recent campaign in Bristol – encouraging residents to divert food waste away from their black bins – has seen an increase of 87 percent in food waste collected.

UK households currently produce around 7.3 million tons of food waste every year, with 5.7 million tons of that being preventable waste. Obviously, reducing this preventable amount is important, but ensuring the waste created ends up in the right place is paramount – currently only 1.1 million tons of household food waste is recycled, with an astonishing 3.5 million tons ending up in landfill or the sewer system.

‘Slim My Waste – Feed My Face’

By providing households with stickers for their bins – reminding residents to put their food waste in a caddy, rather than their bin – and a range of fun graphics, encouraging families to create ‘caddy characters’ with the chance to win prizes through sharing on social media, the campaign returned extremely impressive results during – and beyond – the month it ran for.

Along with the social side, the programme also delivered educational workshops, school assemblies and leaflets to encourage residents to better use their bins and caddies and raise awareness of what actually happens to their food waste through anaerobic digestion and composting.

Should other areas follow suit?

The impressive results of this campaign – albeit only trialled in one suburb of Bristol – demonstrate the effectiveness of increased awareness and social media gamification. The uplift of food waste collected should mean the scheme rolling out to other parts of the city.

The more waste diverted from landfill and put to good use, the better. We think other councils should follow and try this approach too.

Figures from Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP)

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