Hackney Council has recruited Charedi women to encourage other Orthodox Jewish residents to recycle their food waste.
Hackney residents are recycling more than ever before, but peelings, scraps and leftovers still make up about a third of all rubbish by weight. Most homes in Hackney receive free weekly food waste collections from the doorstep or communal bins, and the waste collected is turned into compost or used to generate electricity.
Hackney is home to one of the largest Charedi Orthodox Jewish communities outside New York and Israel, with about 4,000 households around Stamford Hill. Charedi families tend to be large, and meals are mostly cooked from scratch by women in the home. This means that a large amount of peelings, scraps and leftovers are produced every day, and much of it ends up in the bin.
“Hackney’s food waste is taken to processing plants just a few miles away, where it is used to make compost and produce clean ‘biogas’, which helps to reduce the cost of waste disposal for people in Hackney.”
Previous food waste recycling campaigns have had a limited effect in Stamford Hill, so last year the Council recruited Charedi women speak to 500 residents about the benefits of recycling and how to do it. This led to a 32% increase in participation and a 13% increase in the amount of food waste collected in the area.
The Council is now building on the success of the trial, with local Charedi women receiving training from the environmental charity ecoACTIVE and knocking on more doors and talking to residents about recycling. If take up is good, it could divert up to 138 tonnes of waste per year out of the rubbish bins and into recycling.
One door knocker, D.R, said: “I have been recycling my food waste for some time as I am concerned about the impact of food waste on our environment. I find it very easy to do and the compostable liners help to keep my food waste caddy clean. When I saw the advert looking for local residents to encourage others recycle their food waste I thought it would be a great opportunity to get more people recycling food in my community.”
Cllr Jon Burke, Cabinet Member for Energy, Sustainability and Community Services said: “Reducing food waste is good for the environment and helps save us money, but some waste, such as vegetable peelings and plate scrapings, is unavoidable. Hackney’s food waste is taken to processing plants just a few miles away, where it is used to make compost and produce clean ‘biogas’, which helps to reduce the cost of waste disposal for people in Hackney.
Last year Hackney residents recycled 3440 tonnes of their food waste, and we’re constantly thinking of new ways to help residents recycle even more. I’m delighted that we have taken the innovative step of recruiting Charedi women to help spread the word in their community and get even more households recycling their food waste. Leaflets and advice in Hackney Today can have an impact, but the evidence is clear that people are more likely to recycle their food waste if someone from within their own community shows them how it works and why it’s important.”
Both the trial and the current doorknocking scheme have been funded by Resource London, which supports London boroughs to deliver more consistent and efficient waste and recycling services for London.