This paper provides an update to Members of the South London Waste Partnership Joint Committee on communications and stakeholder engagement activities relating to the Partnership’s Phase A (transport & residual waste management, HRRC services and marketing of recyclates) and Phase B (residual waste treatment) contracts.
The Chair thanked the Communications Advisor for his work in developing the ‘Destination: Recycling’ videos which showed the journey of waste once collected from the kerbside as it had helped residents’ understanding of the importance of recycling.
The Communications Advisor outlined communications activity which had taken place since September 2019. Three campaigns had been undertaken, including ‘Destination: Recycling’, Recycle Week 2019 and Give Food Waste a Fright. The ‘Destination: Recycling’ social media campaign had been very successful with over 250,000 views of the 15 second clips, over 10,000 click-throughs to the Partnership website and over 1,800 views of 30 second+ of the videos. The videos had been well received and remained relevant so Members were requested to continue using them to support understanding of recycling.
During Recycling Week an outdoor advertising campaign was run which was funded through a £10,000 bid to Resource London. The campaign ran in all four boroughs, on the tram network and in Kingston and Croydon town centres. Additionally, Veolia ran a series of school visits in the lead up to and during Recycling Week.
Finally, in terms of the Give Food a Fright Campaign which was a series of food waste engagement events which took place in October 2019 and were funded through a £26,000 bid to Resource London. The campaign used pumpkins as the hook as they were a good example of food waste as many people did not use the vegetable they cut up to use as a lantern. Four highly successful pop-up events were held which enabled over 1,800 face-to-face engagements to take place and almost 200 written pledges by residents to reduce their food waste.
Members were informed that user satisfaction levels at HRRCs continued to be positive. It had been noted that some residents were taking waste which could be recycled at the kerbside to these centres and so a leaflet would be developed to be handed out at the HRRC sites to inform residents of what they could recycle at home and encourage them to sort through their recycling.
The Communications Advisor informed Members that Viridor continued to provide regular community updates on progress to restore the Beddington Farmlands, including the installation of swift nesting boxes and initial work to enable wetland grasslands to be formed in spring 2020.
Emissions data from the Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) continued to be uploaded to the Beddington ERF Virtual Visitor Centre; however it was noted by the Communications Advisor that there had been a delay in uploading the data from the second half of December 2019 which Viridor had advised was due to a technical difficulty. The Partnership had been assured that this had subsequently been rectified and the data had been posted to the website.
The Committee noted that a variation to the Beddington ERF permit had come into effect from 1 January and Members were informed that the reasoning was included in the Viridor January emission monitoring report. The change had been recommended by the Environment Agency (EA) and brought the site in line with industry standard monitoring periods.
The Education Centre at the Beddington site had begun to host stakeholder visits and the first school visit was due to take place in the coming weeks. The Committee were informed that school visits could be arranged via the Virtual Visitor Centre or requests could be made to the Communications Advisor.
The Chair thanked officers for their work to increase engagement with residents in regard to recycling and noted that in Croydon over 14,000 young people had been spoken to about recycling and their responses had been positive. It was noted that engaging with young people was very worthwhile to not only increase their recycling rates but also their families.
Members noted that the reach of the campaigns had been very successful and the use of the funding had been very good.
The Committee appreciated hearing the explanation for the delay in reporting the emissions data in December and sought clarification that it would be a one-off technical issue only. The Communications Advisor stated that Viridor had confirmed it had been a technical issue only but that this would be monitored by the Partnership. It was further noted that the approach taken by Viridor to publishing emissions monitoring data at the Beddington ERF was one of the most open and transparent of any facility in the country.
A member of the public noted that over the previous six months the emissions data from Viridor there had been only one month where there had not been a breach, furthermore it was stated that a number of the emissions reports had been delayed. The Chair reiterated that the Beddington ERF had a higher than normal level of transparency and the Partnership had sought an apology and explanation to the delay in publishing the data.
In response to public questions, the Chair stated that the four councils were working towards zero carbon and that the emissions from the ERF were lower than if the trucks full of waste were driven to an alternative site in the south east. As part of the commitment to work towards zero carbon, the Partnership would also look at procuring electric vehicles when a new fleet was procured.
In response to a public question, the Strategic Partnership Manager stated that there were a number of future scenarios that the Partnership would need to consider, including if there was zero waste. There had been a reduction in waste collected in south London which the Partnership was proud of and desired to see reduce further. The Strategic Partnership Manager stated that there was flexibility in the contract which would enable the Partnership to respond to future situations. The Strategic Partnership Manager stated they would be happy to meet with members of the public to discuss the scenarios and ideas to reduce waste.
The Committee stated that they were committed to reduce levels of waste and promote recycling. They welcomed the contributions of members of the public on how best to promote higher levels of recycling and lower levels of waste to help combat the four council’s declared Climate Emergencies.
In terms of the scenario put forward by members of the public that there was no waste being produced by the four boroughs, members of the committee suggested that the ERF would likely not operate as there would be a national trend of reduced levels of waste. It was noted that it would be highly unlikely that south London boroughs would have zero waste and the surrounding area would continue producing waste as much of the waste levels were driven by national trends and policy.
Members of the public noted that young people were very receptive to the idea of recycling, however concerns remained in terms of contamination and as such it was suggested that more communications were required to clarify which bin certain items went into. The Communications Advisor agreed that there was uncertainty; however noted that it was important to find the right balance in terms of the level of information provided as it was important that people were not scared away from recycling. It was noted that there was a thirst for information to avoid contamination and as such the Partnership was looking to develop the information circulated to residents. The Chair requested the support of the public in the Partnership’s goal to lobby government for more messaging on recycling and anti-flytipping to further support the goal of less waste.
In response to questions regarding schools and restaurants waste the Communications Advisor informed those present that each school and restaurant would have their own commercial waste contract, many of which were not within the remit of the Partnership. It was recognised, however, that many of these organisations would find themselves under pressure to reduce their wastage and any reduction in waste was supported by the Partnership.
RESOLVED: To note the contents of the report.