During autumn 2010 an independent research firm carried out a survey on the use of eight of Derbyshire’s nine Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs). All of the HWRCs are managed and operated by H W Martin on behalf of Derbyshire County Council and Derby City Council (one site was closed for refurbishment and was not included in the survey). In total the sites receive over 1.2 million visitors each year.
99% “Very Satisfied”
The results are extremely positive and reflect H W Martin’s experience and expertise in running HWRCs. The headline result is that 99% of visitors to the sites are very satisfied with the service.
“Local” is Key
It became clear that people like to use their local site, with 87% travelling less than 5 miles to get there. The majority of people also make a special visit to the site – 80% of visitors travel just to their local recycling centre rather than incorporating it into a trip to the shops or elsewhere.
In addition, it would appear that people visit their site quite regularly, with almost half of visitors (49%) visiting at least once per month.
Recycling Beats Waste
It is also interesting to note what it is people are taking to the sites. Over the years, what used to be called “the tip” has been transformed in order to promote recycling. This is not just a name change. According to the research only around a quarter of visits are to bring bags of rubbish. Almost three quarters (73%) of visits are to bring recyclable materials or re-useable items. In fact two-thirds of the materials comprise wood, paper or card.
This is clear evidence of the transformation from the local tip to the recycling centre. It is also evidence of H W Martin’s effective recycling centre management and the impact of recycling campaigns run by the City and County Councils, as well as government-led national recycling initiatives such as WRAP and Recycle Now.
The Age of Waste Reduction
The research also looked at the age and gender of people visiting the HWRCs. Three-quarters of visitors are aged between 45 and 64. Very few people aged over 65 visit the sites (7%) and even fewer aged under 25 (3%). The relatively poor show in the under 25s age range is likely to be because recycling centres are used by householders, i.e. those with primary responsibility for their house. Other research states that over the past 30 years the average age of the first-time buyer has risen from 27 to 34. So those people under the age of 25 are far more likely to be living with parents, or living in college / university Halls, travelling and so on. They will therefore be far less likely to be producing large items of waste and recycling.
With people in the 65-plus age range, there are likely to be other factors resulting in them visiting less frequently than others. The most significant might be a lack of independent mobility, so while elderly people might not visit the recycling centre personally, they could well have their materials taken for them by someone else. Furthermore, with those aged over 65 more likely to be in receipt of state pensions and benefits, they are able to access free services such as local councils’ bulky waste collections. Finally, one last point about our more senior citizens which is simple but possibly true – they create less waste than the rest of us, probably because they tend not to subscribe to the “consumer” and “throwaway” culture indulged by others…?
It is research such as this undertaken for H W Martin that enables us to improve our understanding of our users’ needs. Similarly positive results have been seen in survey results in other counties where H W Martin manages the HWRCs, including Warwickshire where the county has seen the country’s highest rise in recycling rates for the second year running. These results show H W Martin continues to improve its service to client local authorities and their residents.
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