Bloggers, carrots, local government and recycling:

A few moments ago I received an e-mail from Duncan Gotobed – he who helped by challenging the Charity Commission to explain their wariness about blogging.  This is what he’s asking:

Have you come across any Local Authorities that are considering using a carrot approach to  recycling rather than the stick approach, which involves bins with chips and potential penalty notices?

It strikes me that waste management is going to be a big issue for Local Authorities, with increasing land fill charges as well as a great opportunity for them to engage with different community groups who share a common interest.

Could bloggers contribute to shaping this agenda and if so are they doing it?

What do you think?  Stratford-on-von District Council has been using their twitter stream to share information about recycling regimes etc. Any other, clearer examples of social media encouraging recycling?


  1. srboisvert says:

    It’s a great idea but it requires the councils to avoid polluting the different information channels.

    Imagine if you could subscribe to reminders from the council that would let you know it is garbage pickup the next day and that it was also recycling or garden waste pickup.

    Or even better – reminders that it is a good time get in your final hedge trim and to put your clippings in the clear green bags. Or composting tips like now is a good time to shovel your summer compost into your garden or maybe get ready to collect your leaves so you can use them for leaf mould, etc….

    I’d love that but I fear that Birmingham Council would either fill the channels up with all kinds of other information that I don’t care about, like the about how they are doing a great job with GCSE grades, for the sake of politics or that they would be too lazy to implement the system with fine enough granularity to allow the citizens to keep their desired signal ratio high.

    Things like composting are really pretty easy (though the council could make the bins cheaper – plastic daleks shouldn’t cost 20 quid) but like gardening they require you to keep on top of them – putting out, turning or stirring and digging in – or you end up with a slimy mess and never do it again. A good simple opt-in pure reminder subscription system – SMS, voicemail, tweet, email, rss feed or calendar website – could nudge people into maintaining once they start instead of starting and quiting once they have a messy failure.

  2. Nick Booth says:

    Very simple idea and all it requires to work is a clear understanding on the part of local government comms teams that rss can be sliced as many ways as you like. Imagine a feed for my neighbourhood/ward which tells me (by text or through feed reader or whatever) when to put out bins and recycling and what to put out – including warning em in advance of xmas changes. On top of that it might alos be able to tell me that the big rubbish collectors are down my way on thursday. If I want thtme to pick something up please call 0121 — .

  3. A couple of ideas on recycling from across the pond:

    One of the council’s in Australia previously gave all households two identically sized “wheelie” bins, one for recycling and one for other rubbish.

    They first swapped the waste bin for a smaller one, then they cut the collection of rubbish to once a fortnight. At the same time they gave away free worm farms and low priced compost tubs. The cost saving on less pickups and less waste paid for the farms and tubs.

    How about container deposits? A small charge for each bottle redeemable at recycling centres.


    The city of London, Ontario (Canada) recently made a big step on the ‘reduce’ side of the triangle, banning the sale of bottled water in municipal buildings. Fight the waste problem at the source, so to speak.

    In my city, local officials have been promoting recycling and composting for years but their results have been spotty. We’re still focused on the cost of recycling programs rather the benefits.

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