Let’s talk rubbish…
Last year there were over 1,000,000 cases of fly-tipping, or illegally dumping waste, in the United Kingdom. The costs for clearance and enforcement recorded were at more than £75m. This shows that there is a serious problem that we face as a society. Meanwhile, information on recycling remains insufficient, inconsistent and inaccurate from council to council. With 353 local authorities, this has led to 353 versions of the situation.
This is why I decided to develop Utter Rubbish as an app-based communications platform to keep residents up-to-date about recycling information. The app provides a reporting mechanism to monitor fly-tipping because sometimes the simplest solutions are the most sustainable.
The problem is global, systemic and caused by our behavioral attitudes. This project is relieving a substantial burden from local authorities in contacting and reviewing incidents of fly-tipping and easing the communication process with a more efficient system.
There is a growing need to implement this support, as recent data showed that there were over 8,374 incidents of fly-tipping occurring in Stoke-on-Trent alone from 2016 to 2017. This shows a yearly increase of 1,760 cases with an additional cost of £166,000. With only 29 court fines this year (amounting to a mere £8,993) it is important to deal with the £575,857 problem, which is harming local communities and putting council budgets under pressure. The Utter Rubbish platform effectively analyses data to combat the investigations made.
The financial savings for local authorities could then be reinvested into other community projects. Tackling fly-tipping will also ensure a clean environment for ecological habitats and community activities. The identified need for improved communication about waste collections between local authorities and residents is clear. The hybrid app and website provide an accessible platform that solves this problem and provides an opportunity for any community group to promote campaigns.
The approach used to collaborate with current partners has proven successful in showing the replicability of Utter Rubbish’s use by current local authorities nationwide. Dissemination of the project has been achieved through involvement in outreach on campus, nominations for numerous awards, inclusion in the UN’s Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) report, as well as being featured in local, national and international media, including BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat.
Utter Rubbish Ltd is proud to have been able to work with the Staffordshire Waste Partnership and local authorities across the UK. This has provided case studies to enable best practice to be shared that will benefit a wider demographic of residents in other local authorities. We’ve just won a prestigious Green Gown Award in the Enterprise category, have been Highly Commended by Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce for our environmental impact, and have been shortlisted in the Reimagine Education awards to be held later this month in San Francisco.
Let me quote Professor Trevor McMillan, vice-chancellor at Keele University, where I am a student at the School of Management: “Elliott’s project demonstrates how [socially responsible initiative] equips our students to apply their skills and values to contribute to creating a sustainable future.”