Monitoring and evaluating waste prevention scheme performance is something that all local authorities should be doing as a matter of routine. Not only does it enable assessment of whether schemes are performing as expected, it also helps diagnose problems, design new approaches and ultimately improve efficiency and effectiveness.
What do ‘monitoring’ and ‘evaluation’ mean?
‘Monitoring’ means regularly measuring what’s going on with your service, your schemes or the effect of your communication activity.
‘Evaluating’ means drawing conclusions from the monitoring data on how well the service or schemes are performing or the effect of the communication activity.
Monitoring and evaluation are therefore two distinct activities with monitoring being impartial and factual while evaluation tends to be subjective and value laden.
Why monitoring and evaluation is important
Provided you carry out the right type of monitoring you can:
- measure progress against objectives and targets, so you will know in advance if you are likely to hit or miss them;
- assess expenditure and control costs;
- evaluate return on investment (RoI) to justify your existing budgets or persuade budget holders that you need more money to achieve statutory and local targets;
- identify successful systems as well as problems or performance issues, so that you can target your efforts to those neighbourhoods where improvements will make the most impact;
- measure customer satisfaction and user attitudes to establish how these are impacting on the performance of your service / scheme;
- plan service / scheme expansions and design (or redesign) your service / schemes so that they target materials that will make the most impact;
- plan targeted communications to improve performance; and
- address the issues that are really impacting on your service / scheme success and not those that you think are.
Measuring waste prevention is not straightforward - strictly speaking we cannot measure what is not created. There are, however, various ways to assess the impact of waste prevention activities:
- Measurement of changes in total quantities of collected wastes against established trends.
- Measurement of changes in waste composition, e.g. changes in the proportion of a specific material following a targeted campaign.
- Measurement of awareness and declared behaviour, i.e. what people say they know about and do.
- Measurement of change in the uptake of specific waste preventing alternatives, e.g. hire of equipment, use of real nappies/laundries. More detailed examples of this are given in each activity section.
- Measurement of the waste quantities being dealt with through specific prevention activities such as unwanted mail reduction and community re-use activities. Information is provided in the likely diversion section.