The Ur[bin] Issue
The Ur[Bin] Issue presents the results of a public inquiry, conducted by Keep Britain Tidy, which sought to find new ways to improve recycling rates in urban environments across England – by involving members of the public in deliberative research.

This project was commissioned and sponsored by national recycling and resource management company SITA UK, a front-line provider of household recycling services across the UK.

To involve members of the public, Keep Britain Tidy and social research agency, Britain Thinks, hosted two Citizens’ Juries (one in Lewisham and one in Manchester) giving members of the community the opportunity to discuss and debate the subject of recycling with a panel of industry experts or “expert witnesses”.

At each session, members of the public were asked about their initial attitudes towards recycling before, on the second day, putting together informed action plans to improve recycling in their areas. 

The recommendations in the action plans were then tested by Keep Britain Tidy in an online poll of 1,000 people living across the country, to determine whether or not they were widely supported.

Based on the feedback from residents and responses to the poll, three clear over-arching elements emerged that are needed to help improve recycling – Engagement (providing good quality, accessible, information to empower people and change attitudes); Motivation (to reinforce positive behaviours); and Infrastructure to support those attitudes and behaviours.

Based on the jurors’ actions plans and the three key elements above, Keep Britain Tidy has produced a 10-point action plan to improve urban recycling performance across England.

The 10 action points are aimed at a range of stakeholders in the recycling process. It was clear from speaking to the jurors that improving recycling performance will require the buy-in of government at all levels, the recycling industry, manufacturers, retailers, and householders. It cannot be achieved by any one sector in isolation.

The Citizens’ Jury approach provided participants with clear, objective information about recycling, that enabled “penny drop” arguments to emerge – the bits of information that convinced people that recycling was the right thing to do.

Director of External Affairs for SITA UK, Dr Gev Eduljee, said: “The clear, concise, recommendations made by Keep Britain Tidy in this report have stemmed directly from householders. SITA UK fully supports them. From listening to our ‘jurors’ at the events, it is evident that much work remains to be done to help people living in urban environments to engage with recycling. We saw from the citizens’ juries that once householders are engaged, this empowers them to make their own positive choices and adjust their behaviours accordingly."

We welcome discussion from the wider sector about the recommendations in this report and how we can work together to develop informed and enabled communities, actively recycling across England.