Improving food waste recycling through citizen engagement

26 October 2017
A man and child putting a milk carton in a bin.
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The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has stated his ambition to ensure London is one of the greenest, healthiest, most resilient, and resource-efficient world cities. As London continues to grow, urban issues like waste management and recycling become more and more significant.

Londoners’ Lab, a citizen engagement programme aimed at transforming the way urban services are delivered in the capital, is a partnership between Amey, Greater London Authority, Ferrovial Services, University College London and Future Cities Catapult. The programme will identify citizen-centric courses of action and solutions that will belong to the Londoners and that also could be applicable to other cities in and outside the UK.

The programme has started its activity building on the Mayor’s pledge to tackle falling recycling rates in London and supporting the GLA’s target of a 65% recycling rate by 2030 and zero carbon city status by 2050.

Londoners’ Lab first focus will be to improve food waste recycling in flats because they are the most challenging areas. This will be done by engaging residents to better understand their recycling habits and to design suitable technologies to help them recycle more and better. The programme will be delivered on the ground in the London Borough of Ealing and then the learning will be shared across the capital and wider.

The methodology to approach the challenge is structured in four stages:

  1. Engage residents on the subject of food waste collection and the circular economy in flats.
  2. Design an intervention to improve sorting/recycling of food waste.
  3. Test new user-centred design approaches in relation to recycling and circular economy.
  4. Develop a repeatable methodology for ways of measuring the impact of initiatives in citizen-led city service improvement.

Ferrovial Services will assume the programme management role through its Centre of Excellence for Cities,while Amey will contribute with their know-how in the provision of urban environmental services. The role of UCL in the programme is to engage residents directly, based on their deep experience in this area, to understand the challenge in more detail and gather ideas to improve it. From this, UCL will lead the design and creation of at least one solution. Future Cities Catapult will develop an independent business case for the programme and develop material to showcase the process to local authorities so that they may learn about the methodology and apply it to future service procurements.

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