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Learning from our recycling programme
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Picture of children sorting out recycling and compost

Through our Transforming Waste programme, we've helped communities to take charge of re-use, recycling and composting. This helps reduce waste and build sustainable communities. It has also helped build greater community cohesion.

Our Transforming Waste evaluation helps us to support more communities in this area. It highlights how the programme helped communities and key challenges. This helps us strengthen our knowledge and develop new programmes based on real evidence.

Key to success

Characteristics of the programme that were important to its success include:

  • community participation – this is vital to creating more sustainable communities
  • an inclusive approach - this ensures disadvantaged groups and individuals become involved in projects. For Transforming Waste, this was achieved by:
    • giving people meaningful and valued roles
    • helping people to see how they can make a difference
    • promoting the good work of members of the community.
  • a devolved approach - although the programme operated throughout the UK, responsibilities were devolved to each country
  • using Award Partners (third parties to distribute funds) – key contacts help to establish and maintain good communication links with Big Lottery Fund
  • working with local authorities - projects can make use of existing networks of infrastructure, charging mechanisms, funding streams and contacts.


Effective programmes are never easy. Some of the challenges involved in our Transforming Waste programme included:

  • ensuring project managers and community groups have the skills needed to run and sustain projects. This includes appropriate management and financial capabilities
  • lengthy timescales for setting up wider initiatives
  • the essential need for comprehensive business planning
  • the need for contingency plans to deal with possible obstacles
  • raising the project’s profile externally through marketing, networking and awareness-raising
  • finding alternative funding to sustain projects
  • collecting good data for effective monitoring.

By recognising these challenges, we can try to address them in our future programmes.

More about the research

Transforming Waste was a UK-wide initiative that ran from 2003 to 2006. Through it, we funded community projects that expanded waste re-use, recycling and composting.

We commissioned ERM (Environmental Resource Management) and Eunomia Research and Consulting to evaluate Transforming Waste. The three year evaluation focused on:

  • the environmental, economic and social impacts of the programme
  • the effectiveness and impact of community participation
  • the longer-term sustainability of projects.

A summary of our findings together with those from our Green Space and Sustainable Communities programme is available in our summary document listed under Publications below.


Transforming Waste evaluation
Transforming Waste first report
Transforming Waste first report annex: Country breakdowns
Transforming Waste first report summary
Green Spaces, Sustainable Communities and Transforming Waste evaluation summary