An Evaluation of Interventions for Improving Pro-Environmental Waste Behaviour in Social Housing

Ryan Woodard, Anthea Rossouw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recycling levels have been stagnating for a decade in England. Over the last 2 years, 39% of local authorities have seen a reduction in their recycling rates. Social housing has historically been neglected in waste service provision and literature. Housing associations own 2.5 million dwellings, representing 10% of all housing stock in England. Improvements to waste services and increased resident engagement in social housing could address stalling recycling levels and contribute to the aim of the national waste strategy of moving towards a circular economy. This paper presents the results of engagement with housing association residents across 24 sites in England. Following community engagement workshops, a range of resident-led interventions were implemented, including improvements to recycling services and installation of onsite food waste composters. An inclusive resident engagement programme bespoke to each site was pioneered, including regular feedback on waste reduction and recycling performance. The impact of the project was evaluated using mixed methods, including monitoring of recycling levels and resident and stakeholder surveys. The interventions stimulated behaviour changes, leading to increased recycling rates (+10.4% per site compared to baseline), waste reduction (0.4 kg per flat per week compared to baseline), increased recycling quality, and social cohesion. The research outcomes provide a model
for improving waste management in social housing globally.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7272
Number of pages16
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

© 2021 by the authors.
Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
This article is an open access article
distributed under the terms and
conditions of the Creative Commons
Attribution (CC BY) license (https://


  • recycling
  • social housing
  • circular economy
  • behaviour change
  • composting
  • engagement
  • recognition
  • housing associations


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