The notion of working together to save the planet is no longer a self-fulfilling prophecy, it seems. The majority of people believe that the government should incentivise recycling, according to a new survey, while a quarter have confessed that they would make more effort to recycle if there were more financial rewards available. Well, the chance is now there, so it’s time to get our act together.
Greenredeem aims to meet this demand for incentives and improve recycling through a rewards scheme that could return between £75 and £100 per year.
The Worrying Truth
A study by the firm (formally RecycleBank) found that one in five respondents showed no interest in preserving the environment. Some said they found it too tiresome, while some of the Clarkson mould are convinced that recycling makes no difference at all.
Almost two-thirds said that the government could do more to encourage recycling, while more than a third of respondents believe that local government could be rewarding people financially for their efforts, by offering tax rebates or lowering council tax.
- 27% don’t recycle because they don’t get anything out of it;
- 19% are not interested in being green;
- 37% of adults think that companies, government, local government should be rewarding people for being green and recycling;
- 24% would be encouraged to recycle more frequently if they received a financial benefit for their troubles.
Greenredeem aims to improve recycling rates through a reward system that allows people to earn points for recycling and then redeem them through commercial partners.
Rewards for Recycling? How Does it Work?
If you live in an area where rewards are offered for recycling, you can join the programme and earn points for recycling. If you don’t live in one of these areas, you can still become a member and earn points for taking other green activities such as online pledges or quizzes, which are available every week.
How Much Can You Earn?
Greenredeem estimates that someone who lives in a participating borough could earn points worth £75-£100 per year. This depends upon how people spend their points, as different rewards have different values. The company says that local rewards, such as a discounted swim at the leisure centre, tend to be most popular.
Outside of participating zones, the earnings will be less, but regular participation online will still allow people to accumulate and spend points. There are no limits on the number of points that can be earned.
How/Where Can Points Be Redeemed?
Points can be redeemed in a number of ways:
- They can be posted to members at home;
- Members can print them off at home and take them into a store;
- A smartphone app (available soon on iPhone and Android) will allow members to redeem points in-store.
The list of partners includes a number of big name brands, including:
- Marks & Spencer
- Havan Holidays
- Jojo Maman Bébé
There’s also a selection of environmentally friendly online retailers, such as Cycle Surgery or Runners Need, which both offer discounts online in their e-stores.
How Can I Get Involved?
Wherever you live, it’s easy to get involved by registering on the website. But the firm also encourages people who are interested in the idea to invite local councils to take part. Rob Crumbie explains why:
If you live outside of those areas and you really like the idea of being motivated to recycle then write to your council, write to your local offices, write to your mayor – and tell them that there’s this great scheme and that you want your local authority to do it.
At the end of the day it will improve the local environment through increased recycling; it will save the council money because they will be sending less waste to landfill; and local shops and businesses will benefit because they’re seeing increased customer footfall through people using their rewards in local shops and stores.
What’s the Big Idea?
Greenredeem plans to motivate people to take part in a variety of green activities. The firm values education as well as action, which allows people to earn rewards even if they live outside of participating regions. And it insists that rewards are working.
We’ve seen through the last two or three years an awful lot of change in terms of the amount that people are recycling. But we know that when you motivate people with points and rewards, they do recycle a lot more.
We’ve operated in a couple of local authorities for long enough now that we’ve got a good record of increasing recycling rates, and actually our local authorities are increasing their recycling rates by up to three times the national average.
Why Should We Reward Recycling At All?
The environment has been a hot topic in recent weeks, with the clamour over rising energy bills and calls for a new energy account switching system to equal the new current account service. We’ve also published recently on the merits of zero-emission electric cars.
But rewards for recycling is another issue altogether. When it comes to recycling, it’s normally punitive measures that draw us into action rather than rewards for our efforts.
The UK is set to introduce a levy on plastic bags from 2015, a move that reduced consumption by around 90% in Ireland after the measure was introduced in 2002. Supermarkets already encourage the re-use of bags by offering reward points for loyalty schemes.
In Canada and parts of Europe, a deposit scheme ensures that residents return plastic and glass containers to collect their refund. The added benefits of this include a substantial reduction in the volume of landfill.
But the psychology of motivation also reveals why offering a direct financial incentive for recycling is a dangerous path to tread.
Offering a reward reduces interest in the benefits of undertaking an action for its own sake. And because of this, as some behavioural psychologists have demonstrated, people are less likely to carry out a task if a reward is offered and then taken away than if was never offered in the first place.
So, once councils engage with a programme of this nature – albeit for the right reasons – they may encounter bigger problems if they try to take it away.
To Greenredeem, though, the stats speak for themselves.
It might seem slightly crazy to get people to be incentivised to recycle, but the reality is that we all need a nudge in the right direction, and there’s a high level of awareness in the UK about recycling. There’s been a lot of money spent on education and awareness and actually in our survey about 97% of people said “yep, we know about recycling and we know we should be doing it”.
But the key thing was that about a quarter of the people said that they wouldn’t recycle because they didn’t really get that much out of it personally.
So, there’s a high level of education. What we’ve found is that people need a nudge to get there and we are finding there’s a significant increase… Our boroughs are seeing a significant increase in the recycling rates. And people are more careful about what they recycle and how they recycle, so it’s really important that they put the right items in the right bin – because they’re earning points for it, there’s very much a link to being careful about things as well, which means a better result for everyone all round.
The impact of the scheme would appear to be more important than debating the need for it in the first place. So, for once, why not enjoy being rewarded for our efforts? Find out what you can earn through Greenredeem today.