Each week, North London Waste Authority (NLWA) receives around 2,300 tonnes of recycling from the north London boroughs of Barnet, Camden, Hackney, Haringey, Islington and Waltham Forest. The vast majority of this recycling gets sorted and sold to be turned into something new – in fact, 100% of the plastics, metals, and glass get sent to be reprocessed in the UK or Europe.
However, last year, 15% of the materials collected were contaminated with non-recyclables like nappies, food, clothes, or even black bags of rubbish. This spoilt the recycling so that it could not be turned into something new. That meant, sadly, that last year 18,000 tonnes of household recycling had to go to waste.
It’s estimated that contaminated recycling costs north London taxpayers £2m per year - money which residents would surely prefer was spent elsewhere.
This year, in an attempt to curb the problem, NLWA is taking a fresh approach – based on behavioural insight – to help maximise recycling among its residents.
NLWA is launching an advertising campaign on 28 June 2021, timed to begin with London Action Climate Week, called ‘Thanks for trying’. The purpose of the campaign is to make sure that residents don’t put the wrong materials in their recycling bin. But it also recognises that many people who put the wrong material in their recycling bin do so with good intentions.
Cllr Clyde Loakes, Chair of North London Waste Authority, said:
“NLWA and the north London boroughs provide one of the most extensive recycling services, accepting the widest range of items for recycling. But recycling can be confusing, so it is not surprising that people get things wrong. We need the government to deliver on promises to make it easier. In the meantime: we are running this campaign to raise awareness of the problem, and direct residents to clear information about what CAN be recycled, and where north Londoners can go to check: NorthLondonRecycles.com”
‘Thanks for trying’ is an innovative, radically different approach designed to engage recyclers who are likely to be contaminating, but open to changing their behaviour. To stand out, it uses slightly surreal scenarios underpinned by fact. Adverts focus on a selection of the most common contaminants – from clothes to electricals – in a visually-eccentric way. The result: an innovative campaign designed to grab attention and encourage people to check before they chuck.
Advertisements will appear on London Underground and bus stops all over north London, as well as on social media, on local recycling vehicles and in local newspapers.