Do You Live in The Greenest Neighbourhood?

Council launch competition which could mean more local cash

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Ealing Council has approved plans to boost recycling by offering £80,000 as an incentive to the borough’s keenest recycling communities.

The pilot scheme, which is the first of its kind in the capital, will see people living in each of the borough’s 23 electoral wards competing against each other to win cash for their local area. The ward with the highest proportion of households recycling, as well as the three with the greatest improvement in recycling rates, will be awarded £20,000 each - £80,000 in total.

Instead of rewarding individual households, the scheme will benefit whole communities. Each ward in Ealing already has its own £40,000 annual budget – the winning wards will see their budget next year increased to £60,000, with residents being able to choose which local projects to spend the cash on.

The council will use nationally recognised Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) methodology to carry out recycling participation surveys in each ward and will assess which wards have seen the biggest increase in the proportion of households recycling by next spring. The weight of recycling will not be measured because experts say this could lead to residents needlessly disposing of items that could be re-used and the council is committed to not putting electronic chips in bins.

The scheme should drive up recycling rates and reduce the cost to the council of sending waste to landfill by avoiding hefty landfill charges.

An Ealing Council spokesman told us that the competition is being judged on the assumption that it will only include households where recycling facilities are available.

The monitoring will be of households eligible for the kerbside recycling collection in Ealing, which is the majority of households in the borough.  Approximately 95,000 out of a total of 127,306 households are eligible for the kerbside recycling collection service – 75%.

According to Ealing Council, 96.27% of properties in Ealing have access to a recycling collection, therefore the majority of properties, including flats, now have access to recycling services.

The participation monitoring is carried out in line with WRAP national guidance and will provide a percentage participation rate indicative of each ward, by monitoring a recycling collection round in each ward.  Baseline data will be gathered and improvement data will be subsequently measured. To make the scheme fair, all of the different rounds monitored in each ward will be eligible for a kerbside collection.

The rewards would be for:

1 x highest participating ward (highest percentage)

3 x most improved wards (most improved by percentage between baseline and improvement data)

Cabinet member for Transport and Environment, Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, said:

“We're really excited about this scheme, which is the first of its kind in London. It’s crucial that we drive up recycling rates and send less waste to landfill. As a borough we already recycle around 40% of waste, but we need to do even more. Almost all households can now recycle most material on their doorsteps.  

''The key to increasing recycling figures over the coming years will be to encourage more people to take up recycling.  It's vital for the environment and will also save the council money by stopping us from paying increasing fees to send rubbish to landfill.  We want our communities to work with us to help reduce these costs, so it’s only right to reward our residents for helping us to do this.”

In another ‘green’ initiative the council has agreed plans to create a £100,000 parks and open spaces improvement fund. Under the scheme each ward will be able to submit up to two bids for a maximum of £20,000 extra funding to put towards projects to improve local green spaces. Successful wards will need to match the funding from their own budget. Criteria for applications to the fund and deadlines for bids are expected to be announced next month.

Both decisions were made by the council’s Cabinet on Tuesday, 14 September. All Cabinet decisions are subject to call-in for a period of five working days from the date of publication of the minutes of the meeting.

September 21st 2010