Thursley Nature Reserve In The Surrey Hills

Annual review

Surrey Environment Partnership
April 2020 – March 2021

Activity and achievements 2020-21

Managing Surrey’s waste: Data driven interventions

No Food waste sticker

While it is important to undertake countywide communication to remind and motivate people to recycle, we also need to specifically target residents who are not participating in recycling services or not using them on a regular basis.

To help inform this work, Eunomia was commissioned to review similar interventions undertaken in other parts of the UK. The plans to use the learnings from this report to progress trials were delayed by the pandemic, but a series of targeted interventions were able to be developed and trialled in the latter part of 2020-21.

Food waste

In Elmbridge and Woking, the interventions focused on food waste. Six data sets were created using in-cab reports that indicate whether a household has presented a food waste bin. Residents who had not regularly presented a food waste bin in a 12-week period were targeted in November 2020 using a range of different communications formats to test both methods and messages. This included a combination of postcards, letters, bin hangers and bin stickers, while the messages highlighted the environmental benefit of recycling food waste, the cost-saving benefit, or both.

Food waste recycling leafletResults showed that:

  • Overall, after households received the communications, the in-cab reports showed that over a 12-week period 34.9% more food waste bins were put out for collection.
  • The most effective communication method was a sticker attached to rubbish bins with a postcard featuring a motivating message on the cost-saving benefits of using food waste bins hand-delivered through doors. After households received this type of communications, the in-cab reports showed that over a 12-week period 102.9% more food waste bins were put out.

Further trials are now being carried out as part of the 2021-22 programme.

Garden waste

Garden waste collections leafletWe worked with Epsom and Ewell Borough Council, Spelthorne Borough Council and Waverley Borough Council to increase garden waste subscriptions. We compiled a list of all households likely to have gardens in each borough that were not currently signed up to their service and measured the distance they were from a CRC.

We then split those properties into groups depending on how far they lived from a CRC and pulled out the three groups of properties that were the furthest distance as logic suggested that they were more likely to sign up to the service.

We developed three communication types – a letter, a standard postcard and a leaf-shaped postcard – and sent some of each to households within each group. Communications either focused on the convenience or the environmental benefits of using the service.

Garden waste collection service leafletData to assess the outcomes of the interventions showed that the interventions were successful in prompting new sign-ups to garden waste services. Initial calculations indicated a good return on investment with the total number of new subscriptions covering the cost of the intervention plus 148% of additional income. The return on investment will continue to increase with every additional year the residents maintain their subscription.

The new subscriptions will also lead to an increase in garden waste tonnages collected by each council with some potentially diverted from residual waste and some from waste that was previously taken to a CRC.

The new subscriptions will lead to an increase in garden waste tonnages collected by each council.

See also

Surrey’s target


70% of Surrey’s waste should be recycled.