Building on extensive experience of influencing recycling behaviour, Project Integra now proposes to apply a concurrent focus on waste minimisation. Working above and beyond the generic, the programme will demonstrate an original and innovative approach, by applying theoretical behaviour models to community-based waste minimisation initiatives. Waste minimisation will be promoted in the larger context of lifestyle enhancement and guidance will be sought from experts in a diversity of fields. In employing a multi-faceted approach, key networks will be assessed and utilised to distil information and engage residents across Hampshire. In achieving Hampshire’s aim of reducing the growth rate of household waste to 1%, cost savings of £2 million are estimated. Furthermore, a waste minimisation template will be developed to allow project legacy and demonstrate cost savings which can be applied at both a national and international scale.
The project purpose is to take forward recent research on consumer behaviour and behavioural change to develop practical case studies and test theoretical models. The approach will be based on demonstrating the ability to work effectively with existing networks and developing a cost-effective business plan that will be transferable to the larger UK context. The pilot schemes aim to reduce the household waste growth rate (within these areas) to 1%, which when applied across Hampshire could equate to a £2 million saving by 2015/16. If applied at a national scale, disposal costs could be reduced by an estimated £83 million by the same year.
Project Integra has already made significant progress on influencing recycling behaviour and has a current recycling rate of 26%. However, there is a need to concurrently focus on waste reduction behaviour. This innovative project aims to move beyond ‘stand-alone’ waste minimisation activities and address behavioural change through a community-based, lifestyles approach. The theory and expertise exists for Project Integra to introduce and assess practical case studies at a significant scale.
There has long been recognition in waste management of the importance of engaging the public in participating in recycling schemes, and more recently in waste minimisation activities. Early research on pro-environmental attitudes and behaviours focused on examining differences in participation, and attempted to identify those more likely to participate, what role attitudes and motivation played, as well as examining extrinsic factors such as barriers to participation, and the role of information, publicity and education programs.
More recently a broader approach has emerged setting these issues within the context of sustainable consumption behaviour, with the most comprehensive review of the literature on consumer behaviour and behavioural change provided by Tim Jackson’s report to the Sustainable Development Research Network. Jackson summarises the difficulties and complexity associated with negotiating pro-environmental behavioural change, and highlights need for policy to come to grips with (and to influence) the social and institutional context of consumer action, as well as attempting to affect individual behaviours directly.
Policies to encourage pro-environmental behaviour have tended in the past to favour interventions through either the provision of information to change attitudes and behaviour, by influencing the private economic costs and benefits associated with individual behaviours, or by providing facilities to make the behaviour easier or more accessible. Brook Lyndhurst’s review of best practice in waste prevention for Project Integra illustrated this focus. Although these are important avenues for policy interventions evidence suggests very strongly that these measures are insufficient on their own, that persuasion is particularly difficult in a message-dense environment and behavioural change has to be a social process as consumer behaviours are socially negotiated.
Successful behaviour change initiatives need to overcome problems of consumer lock-in, unfreeze old habits and form new ones, and negotiate new social norms. This project intends to explore behavioural change by engaging in social discourse and working to change social norms of those involved in the pilot groups, which will represent communities whether geographical or communities of interest, and through this re-enforce new habits through social interactions, as well providing accessible and appropriate information to the participants to facilitate pro-environmental choice. The approach is based on community-based social marketing strategies and social learning methods, and will draw on both theoretical behavioural models and practical examples of community based action such as Global Action Plan’s Eco-Teams project and those relevant projects cited in the National Resource and Waste Forum’s waste prevention toolkit.