Dawn In The Surrey Hills

Creating a greener, cleaner Surrey

Surrey Environment Partnership Review April 2019 – March 2020

Activity and achievements

Managing Surrey’s waste: Reducing waste at its source

The best way to manage waste is to prevent it occurring in the first place. Three major partnership initiatives delivered this year were designed to help residents avoid generating waste which then needs to be collected and disposed of.

Waste digester - green cone 3For food waste reduction this involved a behaviour change campaign to persuade residents to buy and waste less food as well as a scheme that offers a discount on food waste digesters. A similar scheme for compost bins is also available and was promoted during the year and through a garden waste campaign which also aimed to remind existing composters to keep composting. The third initiative encourages new and expectant parents to try using real nappies instead of disposables.

The best way to manage waste is to prevent it occurring in the first place.

Save food, money and the planet

Each SEP campaign is planned using the 6Es model of behaviour change which takes into account the different ways to influence behaviour – enabling, encouraging, engaging and exemplifying. It also includes an ‘explore’ stage to gather insight to inform the actions to be taken and an ‘evaluate’ stage to measure success and help shape future plans.

The type of evaluation is determined by the campaign spend. For higher budget campaigns independent research is commissioned which gives us an insight into how residents responded to the campaign and if it impacted their behaviour. Smaller budget campaigns are predominantly delivered through digital channels so the evaluation assesses how residents interacted with the content.

The 6Es model of behaviour change takes into account the different ways to influence behaviour.


Feel Good for wasting food web banner


Insight gathered for the food waste reduction campaign led us to tie in with the hot topic of climate change and aimed to encourage Surrey residents to waste less food and live more sustainably. We used simple messages that:

  • Highlighted the cost-savings of wasting less food.
  • Raised awareness that wasting less food is better for the environment.
  • Showed it’s easy to waste less – signposting residents to useful information and apps on SEP’s website.

A fun, creative design personified types of food that are typically wasted and encouraged residents to ‘save food, money and the planet’.

In addition to the campaign, a SEP scheme offered residents the opportunity to buy a food waste digester at a discounted price.

Unlike compost bins, any kind of food waste can go into a digester and be turned into compost. As well as providing residents with a free supply of compost this saves taxpayer money by diverting food waste from the collection and disposal system. Sales of food waste digesters increased threefold this year with 86 sold to Surrey residents through the discount scheme. These are significantly more expensive than compost bins, but communicating these dual benefits is starting to increase their popularity.

Highlights from the evaluation included:

  • Page views of SEP’s website increased by 82%.
  • Facebook posts were seen 84,368 times and generated 25,527 video views.
  • Digital adverts through websites and email apps generated almost 25,000 visits to SEP’s website.
  • There were 3,683 searches related to food waste on the Surrey Recycles app or the online search tool during the campaign period.

Encouraging composting at home

Compost bin - black with compostSEP subsidises the cost of a range of compost bins in different sizes and colours for residents while also providing Surrey schools with a free compost bin per school.

The compost bin scheme has been running for several years so many residents and schools already have already taken advantage of the offer. But continuing to promote the scheme during the gardening season ensures we both encourage new composters and remind existing bin owners to continue composting. In addition, a dedicated home composting behaviour change campaign ran from early March to mid-April 2020.

The target audience for the campaign was all Surrey residents who produce garden waste, with a focus on women aged 55 plus, as research indicated they were most likely to be regular gardeners. A new creative approach was designed to specifically appeal to this audience.

As a result of this activity Surrey residents bought 708 subsidised compost bins during 2019-20 and 12 compost bins were provided to schools, a threefold increase on last year.

Highlights from the campaign evaluation included:

  • During March, 240 compost bins were also sold, a 73% increase compared to the same period in 2019.
  • 35,651 pageviews of SEP’s website garden pages, an 11% increase on the previous year’s campaign.
  • Campaign videos across all SEP digital channels including YouTube were viewed 60,760 times.

Getting real about nappies

Baby wearing cloth nappyIt’s estimated that each baby will use over 4,000 nappies from birth to potty and research from the Environment Agency has shown that weekly rubbish for families with a baby could be halved by using cloth nappies. To encourage Surrey parents to do this we run a cloth nappy trial kit scheme. The scheme allows them to borrow a free kit, which can help them make an informed choice about using cloth nappies and which types are best for them and their baby.

We currently have a network of 14 cloth nappy trial kit hosts based in ten areas across the county. Between them they host 22 cloth nappy kits.

On 23 March, due to the coronavirus pandemic, we decided to temporarily suspend the scheme until further notice and when the lockdown is fully lifted. Moving forward, resident research and anecdotal feedback gathered to inform our 2020-21 programme indicated that there are still a lot of misconceptions about real nappies and attitudes need to change before many more prospective parents will consider using them.

Based on these findings and the time required to manage the hosting scheme, it was agreed that rather than try to expand the scheme, the focus for 2020-21 would shift to educating residents about the benefits of cloth nappies and myth-busting to encourage more people to consider using real nappies. While the scheme is suspended the messaging will encourage people to buy their own kits rather than borrowing a trial kit.

During the 2019-20 programme:

  • New volunteer trial kit hosts were recruited and set up in Weybridge, Camberley, Dorking and Guildford.
  • More than 100 Surrey residents borrowed a kit.
  • Feedback from families showed that most had a positive experience borrowing a kit.
  • 73% said they continued to use cloth nappies following the trial (27% all of the time; 47% some of the time).
  • The main reasons for not using/not using all the time were the cost, not having a full set yet, and the amount of washing/drying required.

See also

Surrey’s target


70% of Surrey’s waste should be recycled.