A New Marketing Role For Recycling Officers in the UK? Public Participation and ‘The Roadshow Concept’

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Courtesy of R´2000

The success of local authority recycling programmes are reliant upon the participation of households in the authorities services. Traditional communication approaches have long term impacts without the necessary short term gains required to achieve government targets. The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea decided that ‘effective promotion’ was the only means available to increase their recycling rates using the more direct promotional activities of a ‘Roadshow’ approach to reach a wider audience. This marketing approach conceptually marks a rethink in the way that recycling is perceived, placing communications at the heart of an integrated waste management strategy.

1. UK Recycling Policy

Since the 1960’s the reduction of waste through the promotion of recycling has steadily worked its way up the environmental policy agenda. Yet recycling is more than just a response to the environmental crisis and has assumed a symbolic role in beginning to change the nature of western societies as cultures of consumerism. In the UK recycling of household waste is presently one of the main foci of policy interest and research, with emphasis on the designation of national targets and the changing of local behaviour (Read 1997). The Environmental Protection Act (1990) created a framework within which local authorities, contractors and individuals within the industry would be stimulated to recycle more waste (DoE 1990). In the Government’s White Paper on the Environment ‘This Common Inheritance’ (1990) the Government set a target for the recycling of 25% of household waste by the year 2000, which has acted as a further impetus to recycling in this country. However, recycling is proving to be a difficult area in which to achieve success, as current national recycling rates of 9% (Read 1999) will not easily be increased to reach the target level of 25%, although a minority of individual authorities in the UK have already achieved this level. According to the environment minister (Michael Meacher) the UK is ‘highly unlikely to meet the government recycling target of 25% by the year 2000’, but that ‘I am determined that we get to it as soon as possible thereafter’ (Read 1999).

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