SITA UK launches report into public opinion on community incentives

Written by: Recycling Waste World | Published:

Further to the proposal within last week’s waste review to develop a system of shared incentives with local communities, SITA UK has launched a study into what residents think of incentives such as utility discounts to facilitate the development of new waste management facilities.

The SITA UK commissioned research, which was undertaken by Ray Georgeson Resources and market research specialists GfK NOP, found that offering personal benefits to those living near proposed waste management facilities would significantly increase community support for them.

The study was based on a series of focus group sessions and face-to-face interviews with 1,000 residents to gather understanding of waste projects and thoughts on community buy-in options. In the survey, just under half (45%) of residents surveyed said they would be happy for a new facility to be built if the local community got something in return.

The research found that people typically do not consider what happens to their waste once it is collected from their doorstep. The majority of the respondents (60%) said they were unaware of the limited availability of landfill space. However, although many were new to the term energy-from-waste, a strong majority (79%) said they felt that energy-from-waste was a good idea.

The research concluded that the level of support for a local facility increased when a community fund was proposed and even more so when discounts were offered.

David Palmer-Jones, CEO of SITA UK, said: “One of the clearest and more positive aspects of the waste policy review was the proposal of a system of shared incentives with local communities to help facilitate the development of new waste management facilities.

“This report assesses and quantifies views about community buy in for waste infrastructure for the very first time. Its findings are a real insight into the way people think and feel about waste infrastructure and the kind of conditions that they believe are acceptable in order to gain their support. We must listen carefully to this if we are to have any hope of making up the shortfall of modern, sustainable facilities needed to deal with this country’s waste.”

Ray Georgeson, director of Ray Georgeson Resources, said: “The coalition government has spent a lot of its short tenure advocating that ‘incentivisation’ is the best way to encourage more positive attitudes towards recycling and waste.

“Over the next few years the UK will need to develop numerous new recycling and waste management facilities to provide a sustainable treatment route for the waste that currently goes to landfill. So it makes sense to understand exactly how communities feel about hosting these and if by providing incentives we can make these projects more acceptable.”

The report concluded with three recommendations in response to the research. Firstly that more research is needed into the levels of community incentives; secondly, that local authorities should incorporate thinking around community incentives early on in their development plans, and thirdly, that if chosen, utility discount incentives should be attributed to the property not the property owner.

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