How to campaign for less waste and more recycling

From plastic bag-free towns to refashioned clothes and bus fleets run on chip fat, here's a guide to what you can do to tackle waste in your community

Waste Reduction

Love Food Hate Waste
Run by the Government-funded Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), the campaign was launched in 2007 with the aim of reducing consumer food waste by 250,000 tonnes by March 2011 through improvements in food packaging. To date the campaign claims to have helped around two million households reduce their food waste, amounting to savings of almost £300 million and preventing 137,000 tonnes of waste going in the bin.

Click here to read an article on 'This is Rubbish', a campaign to fight food waste through feasts.

Waste Watch
Established in 1987, Waste Watch is an independent charity that promotes the reduction, reuse and recycling of waste.

Zero Waste Alliance UK
The Zero Waste Alliance sees waste reduction as an essential in the fight to reduce CO2 emissions, and aims to encourage others to find a ‘cleaner and healthier way of dealing with waste issues', in the process improving the environment around us.

Waste Awareness Wales
Funded by the Welsh Assembly Government since 2002, WAW is a campaign designed to encourage recycling and waste management throughout the community. The website contains advice for reducing and recycling your rubbish at home, at school and in the workplace.

Originally started in Tucson, Arizona as a way to promote waste reduction, Freecycle now has over seven million members across 4,775 groups. With the aim of keeping reusable items out of landfill, Freecycle enables users to pass on unwanted stuff.

The network has not been without its controversies however, as this Ecologist article demonstrates.

Women's Institute
WI campaigns have included the 'WI Packaging Day of Action', when 200,000 members from across the country returned excess packaging to the shops in a bid to highlight the amount of waste caused by unnecessary packaging of food. Subsequent campaigns have also included the 'Love Food Champions project', which saw the WI and WRAP join forces to help consumers cut back on food waste by raising awareness and encouraging small changes through simple tips.

Community Composting Network
A members-led organisation, managed by an elected committee, CCN supports and promotes community management and local use of compost and biodegradable waste resources.

Click here to read an Ecologist article listing 10 groups campaigning against waste.


Community Recycling Network
CRN is a national umbrella organisation for community-based waste management groups that work in reduction, re-use and recycling.

Recycle Now
The website includes information for primary and secondary school staff to set up school recycling schemes

Click here for an Ecologist article on Sundance Renewables, a Welsh co-operative recycling cooking oil for fuel

Click here for an Ecologist article on building a community biodeisel bus service in Brighton.

Click here for an Ecologist article on recycling batteries.

Plastic bag free
In 2007, Modbury, Devon, become the first town to be plastic-bag free.

Click here for an Ecologist article on how to make your town plastic bag free.

Click here to read an Ecologist article about how Leeds University student union banned the sale of plastic water bottles on campus

Base in Lincoln, RECOUP is a charity established to further plastic recycling. Website includes lots of information and resources.

Textile Recycling

Producing clothes from second-hand textiles that would otherwise be thrown away, TRAIDremade is run by UK fashion recycling charity TRAID (Textile Recycling for Aid and International development). Once finished, clothes are then sold in TRAID's charity shops in Brighton and London to raise funds to fight global poverty. TRAID also runs free Sew Good workshops, encouraging people to reuse textiles and make own clothes.

Harlow based Environmental Conservation Co-operative Ltd (ECCO) is a community, not-for-profit organisation, which has been involved in environmental projects since 1995. Key successes have included the piloting and expansion of the kerbside textile recycling scheme (Text-BAC) in Harlow and Epping Forest.


UK WIN (UK Without Incineration)
UK WIN is an independent umbrella organisation representing a network of groups opposing the expansion of waste incineration in the UK. It aims to provide information and act as a coordinating focus for local community groups and members of the public who are campaigning against the building of waste incinerators in the UK.

Guildford anti-incinerator network (GAIN)
Local residents formed GAIN in September 2000 as the result of an application to build a 225,000 tonne plant at Slyfield. So far campaigning has been a real success, with the Surrey County Council scrapping plans for two Energy from Waste (EfW) incinerators, which has saved over £200 million. Instead the plan is now to build a smaller gasification plant and Anaerobic Digestion (AD) facilities, as campaigned for by GAIN, with the two costing £150m less than the two incinerators and having far less impact on the surrounding environment.

People Against Incinerators (PAIN)
PAIN has been vigorously campaigning to stop Veolia and Nottinghamshire County Council building an incinerator in Rainworth. With construction currently halted, pending a public enquiry in September 2010, the campaign so far has been a success.

Herts WithOut Waste
Started by a group of local residents HertsWOW campaigns for Hertfordshire council to scrap plans for incinerators, and introduce a more sustainable way of disposing of waste.

George Wigmore is a freelance journalist

Matilda Lee is the Ecologist's Community Affairs Editor

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