Waste not, want not

Published on Thursday, 30 August 2012 11:51
Posted by Scott Buckler

Waste is very much on the mind of Britons with almost three quarters (73 per cent) revealing they are worried about the amount the UK is producing every year

They are right to be concerned - of the 290 million tonnes of waste generated in the UK each year, only 115 million tonnes gets recycled.

Yet the nation is certainly not idle on the issue with more than one in two people (55 per cent) already taking steps to reduce their own waste and a further 18 per cent keen to join them with a bit more know-how and support.

Nesta, the UK's innovation foundation, together with the Cabinet Office, has launched the Waste Reduction Challenge, inviting people to submit new ideas on ways to tackle this pressing national issue.

In the survey, people overwhelmingly called for new ways to increase recycling, cut down on packaging, grow more local food and encourage up-cycling. The Reducing Waste challenge prize will reward innovative ideas which aim to reduce, reuse and/or recycle the greatest levels of waste by engaging communities in giving their time, skills and resources.

The aim of the prize is to place solutions in the hands of local communities, in recognition that winning solutions can be far more likely to come from outside of the waste reduction industry.

People of all backgrounds and experiences are being encouraged to submit their ideas at http://www.nesta.org.uk/givingchallenges. The deadline for entries is the 14 September 2012.

The research also shows:

  • The main barrier stopping people putting an idea into action was not knowing where to start (42 per cent)
  • Encouragingly, both confidence and not having the right skills were the least cited barriers to putting an idea into action (25 per cent and 26 per cent respectively),suggesting that with the right investment a greater number of people could take a lead in developing ambitious new ways to reduce waste
  • Young people(16-24 year olds) are the group that are least likely to know what to do about waste (33 per cent), yet most likely to volunteer for community projects (31 per cent volunteered last year and over 40 per cent intend to in the future)
  • In England, overall it is the North East of England who has taken matters most into their own hands with 66 per cent taking measures to reduce waste followed by the South East and South West at 59 per cent.

Vicki Purewal, Nesta's head of the Centre for Challenge Prizes says:

"It is really positive to see that over half of us are already taking steps to reduce waste and many more wanting to know how to. The UK is only at the tip of the landfill when it comes to waste and more needs to be done to tackle the issue at every level.

"It is clear that people have theideas, skills and the passion to help reduce waste, but sometimes we all need help to get ideas off of the ground. This is why we have launched the Waste Reductionchallenge prize. We want people to submit ambitious new ideas that have the potential to reduce waste by tapping into collective skills and resources of neighbours, family, peers, organisations and businesses."

Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd said:

"Challenge prizes seek to address pressing social problems by backing novel ways to bring people together to give their time, skills and resources. Finding imaginative solutions for household waste through the Waste Reduction challenge will help engage local communities to tackle this issue head-on."

25 entries to the Waste Reduction challenge will be shortlisted and given support to develop a detailed plan for their idea. Five concepts with the potential for sustainability and scale will then each receive up to £10,000 and professional advice to set up and test their projects.  The idea that is proving the most effective at reducing waste, and has the potential to be even more effective in the future, will be selected in September 2013 and awarded £50,000.

Source: ©Nesta

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