Rethink Waste trial

Between November 2021 and October 2022, the JWS team managed the trial of Rethink Waste, a waste reduction incentive scheme, in Elmbridge.

The scheme works via an interactive digital platform that all Elmbridge residents could sign up to. Once registered, residents had access to their own personalised interactive dashboard through which they could engage with tailored content and participate in ‘learn and earn activities’ such as videos, blogs, pledges and quizzes.

Residents earned points by pledging, taking a quiz or watching a film. Residents then spent points in several ways including donating points to charities or local schools and entering prize draws.

The aim of the scheme was to encourage residents to reduce the amount of waste they produce by offering incentives to engage with relevant content.

Evaluation of the trial highlighted that:

  • 3% of households signed up in Elmbridge.
  • Households on waste collection rounds that had high numbers of sign-ups reduced the amount of material they put in their rubbish bins by 3.4% more than those on rounds with lower numbers of sign-ups.
  • Households that signed up enjoyed the content, engaging with it over 27,000 times.
  • Residents in the scheme were surveyed in March and October 2022 and results showed that:
    • The proportion of respondents who said their outdoor rubbish bin was typically three-quarters full, full or overflowing when they put it out for collection fell by 8.5 percentage points.
    • The proportion of respondents who said that they could do nothing or only a small amount more to reduce the waste they produce, i.e., residents who felt they knew at least close to everything about waste reduction, increased by 9.6 percentage points.
  • It was difficult to analyse the impact on the amount of rubbish produced by residents because of COVID-19, but a summary showed:
    • Compared with the same period during the previous year, the amount of rubbish collected in Elmbridge reduced by 5.1% whereas in Mole Valley, an area that has collected similar amount of rubbish historically, tonnages reduced by 2.5%.
    • Compared to the same period in 2021, the amount of rubbish collected in Elmbridge reduced by 0.6% more than the average of the other ten district and borough councils in Surrey
  • 16 primary schools in Elmbridge engaged in the scheme with each of them receiving funding to carry out a project that will benefit their environment.

The scheme has now been rolled out to the whole of Surrey. Find out more about Rethink Waste.