A new report by Resource London takes a deeper look at the recycling barriers for residents in houses of multiple occupation, finding although most though it was “important to recycle”, residents were not “recycling very well”.
The Recycling in London’s HMOs report published by Resource London provides the details of ethnographic research carried out into recycling from London Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs).
Ethnographic research is a form of qualitative research aiming to understand people’s behaviour by building a strong understanding of people’s home environments, relationships and life priorities.
This makes it more possible to uncover insight into why they behave as they do.
There was evidence of inconsistency in recycling behaviour by individuals… A large amount of contamination was also observed, with residual items placed in recycling bins and recyclable items placed in residual bins.
This report covers what it is like to live in an HMO, the barriers to recycling and the further opportunities that can be developed to encourage residents in HMOs to recycle more.
Despite the efforts of many Londoners, the capital is struggling to improve its recycling performance.
The Mayor’s London Environment Strategy set recycling targets of 50 percent of Local Authority Collected Waste by 2025, with an aspirational target of 50 percent for household waste by 2030.
Yet still, in a city of nine million-odd inhabitants, where the Mayor and 26 boroughs have declared a climate emergency, recycling rates lag behind the national average: 33 percent of total household waste in the city is recycled, compared to 44 percent nationally.
Among its findings, the report found that, in general, there was a high awareness of recycling and most respondents said that they thought it was important to recycle. However, residents were not “recycling very well”.
“There was evidence of inconsistency in recycling behaviour by individuals,” the report sates. “A large amount of contamination was also observed, with residual items placed in recycling bins and recyclable items placed in residual bins.
“However, the social dynamics in the households were characterised by a lack of communication and discussion between sharers about their recycling behaviours.”
To increase the status of recycling within households and to get everyone to take collective responsibility for recycling, the report offered some recommendations that local authorities, waste managers and landlords could consider:
- Encourage sharers to associate recycling with other shared tasks (e.g. like keeping the property clean).
- Encourage sharers to consider recycling set-up when they are first moving into a property, at the same time—and with the same importance attached—that they go through other set-ups, such as bills and rent payments.
- Emphasise that there are consequences if they don’t recycle well as a household
- Help facilitate the creation of recycling systems in households with low social bonds (e.g. from the landlord)
- Make the whole household feel responsible for waste and contamination of recycling bins
- Encourage social pressure around recycling • Ensure there is a good baseline ‘default’ (e.g. correct bins and signage)
- Encourage residents who don’t know each other to engage more on house rules/chores
- Create a sense of pride in the household and the wider community