Insights into  recycling ImageMunicipalities have a key role to play in reducing waste to landfill by providing recycling options for residents. To learn how well some municipalities are diverting waste and increasing recycling, GreenEdge initiated and received funding from the  PlasticsSA Sustainability Council to research best-practice in ten Western Cape municipalities.  The findings were presented at the WasteCon 2014 industry conference in October.

A key insight is the  importance of fostering optimum participation in recycling by  householders. To achieve this, the supporting infrastructure should make it as convenient as possible through, for example, the provision of free bags and weekly same-day  kerbside collection of recyclables and easy separation-at-source,  namely the  wet/dry, two-bag system.

In addition, a thorough educational and behaviour change programme is vital aimed at communities to whom the service is being provided.  This should go way beyond ‘awareness’ with leaflets in letterboxes to encompass a wide range of communication and feedback tools.

Also important is a supportive relationship between municipality and recycling contractor to assist with the economic viability of the programme. Contractors who can bring  long experience and knowledge of the recycling industry in general are valuable partners.  However they need to see kerbside recycling collection as a service-friendly operation.

The research brought to light practices  and principles that are useful for other municipalities. This fills a gap in current knowledge, assisting diversion and recovery of valuable materials while supporting the long-term aim of zero waste to landfill.

To read the full research report, go to Diverting Household Waste from Landfill: Best-Practice Separation-at-Source Recycling amongst some Western Cape Municipalities.

A short video (5 min)  was also made as part of the research. To see it, click here.