Croydon Council: Corporate Waste Recycling

Sponsor:  Croydon Council Croydon Team
Sponsor Liaison: Malcolm Bell & Bob Fiddik
Student Team: Alex Bell, Julia MacLeod, Dan Murray, Nick Papa
Abstract: The goal of this project was to evaluate the status of current recycling practices within the Croydon Council offices and provide recommendations for improved strategies. We assessed the perspectives and practices of Council employees through a staff survey, in-person interviews, and onsite observations. We assessed recycling in other boroughs to identify best practices.  Based on our findings, we recommended the Council explore ways to enhance existing communication about recycling, improve labeling in recycling areas, and reinvigorate its recycling champion network.  We also recommend the Council examine further the use of compactors and color-coded bags for different waste streams.

Croydon Final Submission

Croydon Final IQP Presentation

Executive Summary

In recent decades, the United Kingdom has felt the growing pressure to recycle. As the population increases, land, energy, and resources are depleted while the volume of waste produced continues to rise. The United Kingdom recognizes the need to reduce the amount of waste being sent to landfills and incinerators and has increased materials recycling rates faster than any other country in Europe between 2000 and 2010 (Vaughan 2013). Despite efforts to reduce material consumption and to promote greater reuse and recycling of materials, there is growing concern about future capacity, safety, and cost of landfills and incinerators. The United Kingdom continues to make efforts to improve waste management programs at the national, regional, and local levels.   The Croydon Council is responsible for promoting and enforcing recycling policies within the borough; however, our project team believes the Council’s internal recycling program could be further optimized. The goal of this project was to evaluate Croydon Council’s current recycling practices and provide recommendations for improved strategies. To accomplish this goal, the team (1) identified the best practices for effective recycling in offices; (2) clarified plans, policies, and guideline’s for Croydon’s current in-house recycling program; (3) conducted a baseline assessment of Croydon’s in-house recycling program; (4) evaluated employee opinions about Croydon’s in-house recycling policies and practices; and (5) developed a set of recommendations and strategies for improvement based on the data from the objectives.

In order to identify the best practices for effective recycling programs, our team interviewed experts on in-house or office recycling programs. The purpose of these interviews was to identify the attributes that make office recycling programs more effective and obtain additional ideas on how to improve Croydon’s policies and guidelines. Our team contacted all 32 boroughs in London, but focused in particular on boroughs known to have state-of-the-art recycling approaches. By interviewing multiple boroughs with successful recycling programs, our team was able to determine beneficial recommendations specifically for the Croydon Council.  Upon arrival in the Council, our team interviewed key Croydon staff members and reviewed internal information inaccessible to us while in the United States in order to determine current practices, policies, and guidelines. From the interviews, we received information about current in-house recycling programs from Croydon Council employees. This information determined the effectiveness of the recycling program and helped assess what methods are followed and/or ignored among employees.  In order to establish a set of recommendations for effective recycling in the Croydon Council, our team analyzed the effectiveness of the current recycling program. We specifically analyzed the recycling practices within the Bernard Weatherill House (BWH) and the Town Hall/ Clock Tower. For BWH our team shadowed Interserve staff and reviewed the preliminary contamination research. Our team analyzed the Town Hall/Clock Tower through interviews with employees and an in-depth tour of the site.   To gain a better understanding of the current council recycling situation, we surveyed all levels of council employees regarding their opinions and habits relating to the Croydon Council’s current and future plans. We strategically interviewed employees who are involved in recycling and they provided us with further insight into the Council’s recycling practices.    As the final step of our project, we developed a proposal outlining recommendations for improvements to the recycling program based on our research findings. We compared and contrasted the practices of multiple boroughs in order to determine what suggestions were most beneficial to the Croydon Council.

After we conducted our research, our team presented our findings in four parts: “Case Studies of Recycling Practices in London”, “Current Recycling Practices”, “Evaluating Employee Knowledge”, and “Evaluating Employee Opinions”. These findings helped us gain a better understanding of effective recycling programs, obtain insight into the current recycling program within the Croydon Council, and determine the most beneficial recommendations for the internal recycling of the Council.   Based on our interviews and site visits, we identified a set of strategies that are essential to an effective office recycling program these include effective education, communication, and labeling, the promotion of a champion network, and the use of waste audits to check compliance and provide feedback to employees. Our team determined that in order to have a successful recycling program, there needs to be a balance among all of these categories. Croydon has implemented some of these strategies in the past but has been unsuccessful in placing a strong, balanced emphasis on every strategy. Our team believes that the recycling rates within the Croydon Council will increase if improvements are made to all of the categories previously listed.   The current recycling practices for the Croydon Council were analyzed by looking at the major buildings run by the Council. Each building serves a different purpose and therefore produces a different amount and variety of waste. There are no mandatory recycling policies for the employees of the Croydon Council and therefore it is more difficult to encourage employees to recycle. Our team focused on the Bernard Weatherill House and the Town Hall/Clock Tower to gain further understanding of recycling within various buildings. As a result of this analysis, we found that bin accessibility, communication, and bin labeling are extremely important to a successful recycling program.   Our team also evaluated the employee knowledge in regards to recycling through interviews and a Council-wide survey. The results clearly showed there is a large lack of recycling knowledge within the Croydon Council and that employees have the desire to learn more.   The opinions of the employees were evaluated further through interviews with Council staff, recycling champions, and through evaluating the open response questions from the survey. Through the analysis and comparison of these opinions, our team determined there is a strong need for communication and recycling participation within the Croydon Council.

Conclusions and Recommendations
Based on our findings, we divided our recommendations into four major sections: Accessibility, Labeling, Education, and Communication. Within those sections, we categorized the recommendations further into low effort solutions and greater effort solutions. The amount of effort necessary for each recommendation was rated in terms of the cost, time, management, maintenance, and potential risk analysis associated with each task. A summary of our recommendations can be seen below.

Exec Summary table 2
These recommendations were developed based on the findings our team collected through interviews, site visits, and survey analysis. With these recommendations taken into consideration, our team is confident that the Croydon Council will be successful in increasing the internal recycling rates.