In 2009, a randomised controlled trial was conducted in Oldham, Greater Manchester that measured the impact of feedback on the behaviour of households relative to its food waste recycling campaign. The town provides a garbage collection system with separate collections for garden waste, mixed recyclables, and residual waste…
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Food waste was subsequently added by separate collection on a weekly basis. A trial was conducted by randomly dividing the streets where such collections were made into the test and control groups. Households in the test group were sent feedback cards to inform them of how their street fared in relation to the neighbouring area. The feedback contained the following message: “Did you know: X percent of homes on A Street recycle their food waste. The average for the area is Y per cent.” A smiley or frown face was affixed on each card depending on the results with a concluding statement, “With your help your street could become the best recycling street in Oldham.” Households get a combination of one of the following cards each time a feedback card was delivered: smiley-smiley; smiley-frown; frown-frown, and; frown;-smiley. Surveys were made on three occasions: before the trial; after the first feedback delivery, and; after the second delivery (John et al, p. 51).
As shown in Fig. 1, the results of the randomised trial show that the test group participation increased from 48.1% before the start of the trial to 50.1% after the second delivery. This translates to a 2.1% increase in household participation from the baseline measurement in August 2009. On the other hand, the control group had a 51.5% participation in the waste disposal scheme at the baseline, but subsequently decreased to 52% in October 2009 (John et al, p. 52).
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