The Flats Recycling Project is a programme of work focused on improving recycling in purpose-built flats that will run until March 2020. The project will concentrate on increasing recycling in existing flats, as well as explore how sustainable waste management solutions can be designed into all new build flats.

On average, flat dwellers recycle half as much as those who live in houses. With purpose-built flats making up 37% of London’s residential accommodation, encouraging greater household recycling by flat dwellers is key to increasing the capital’s recycling rate. With the number of people living in flats increasing (nearly all new build properties in London are purpose-built flats and by 2030 nearly half (46%) of London households will be purpose-built flats) finding solutions that deliver higher recycling participation by flat dwellers will be critical to delivering the Mayor’s recycling target.

Increasing recycling in existing purpose-built flats

Resource London has partnered with the Peabody Housing Association and eight inner London boroughs (which each have over 50% of residents living in purpose-built flats) to explore solutions that will improve recycling in purpose-built flats. The eight boroughs are Camden, Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham, Islington, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Lambeth, Tower Hamlets and City of Westminster.  The project will choose 10 case study estates (and two control) across the boroughs to test out five resident-focused interventions, in order to understand which mechanisms will be the most successful at increasing recycling.

The project kicks off in January 2018 with ethnographic research that will build an understanding of the broader social context and barriers to recycling in flats. Complementing this, during January/February 2018 detailed flats inventories will be carried out which will look at the social and physical context within which waste management sits. The inventories and social research will be used to develop the case study interventions which will then be tested, monitored and evaluated for 12 months. To conclude, the findings will be shared across London.

Designing sustainable waste management into new build purpose-built flats

The delivery approach for this arm of the project is currently under development; the learnings gained from the work that aims to increase recycling in existing flats will be used to inform the delivery.

Gemma Scott is the Project Manager and can be contacted at gemma.scott@lwarb.gov.uk.