There are various ways to approach measuring the impact of a service or waste prevention activity. The appropriate approach to adopt will depend on the service/activity being measured and the time and resources available for monitoring. Common approaches are outlined below with more detail available in the monitoring and evaluation guidance section.
There are also a number of measurement tools available which will indicate the impact of an intervention, during the planning and/or delivery stages.
Tracking waste arisings
Measuring household waste arisings per household should give a good indication of the effectiveness of waste prevention activities. In order to do this a baseline would need to be established from which the change following an intervention can be measured.
Chapter 6 of WRAP's Monitoring and Evaluation Guidance describes how to assess quantities of waste collected and diverted from landfill.
Declared awareness and behaviour
A complementary approach to tracking waste arisings is to ask householders about their attitudes and their behaviour in relation to various waste prevention activities. Measuring tonnage and participation will tell you what is happening but not why.
This involves establishing the baseline (before the waste prevention activity) and then assessing the impact (after the activity has been operating for a period) through further survey. It is very difficult to develop a single indicator to sum up awareness and behaviour because there are many different types of waste prevention activities. WRAPs Monitoring and Evaluation Guidance contains a question bank where you can select the questions most appropriate to your campaign.
Focus groups are a useful way to gauge interest in, and attitudes to, waste prevention activities (either before going ahead, during or to find out what people think afterwards). Discussion should not be taken as representative of your population. Instead you should aim for a broad mix of views by selecting participants with different backgrounds or experiences so that you can find out what different opinions there are out there.
Chapter 4 of WRAP's Monitoring and Evaluation Guidance provides more detail on how to carry out a survey and focus group.
Measuring individual activities
Monitoring participation in an activity will provide you with data which should be used to estimate potential diversion. This can be done in a number of ways:
- Visual check, e.g. the use of “No unwanted mail” stickers can be checked through a ‘visual’ survey (i.e. counting how many are displayed on doors).
- Sign up/subscriptions, e.g. the number of babies using real nappies.
- Counting the number of people using equipment or a service, e.g. the number of people using a community re-use exchange.
- Tracking sales, e.g. the sale of ‘waste aware’ goods (such as detergent refills).
Social indicators to consider include the:
- number of jobs created - permanent and temporary;
- number of volunteers involved; and
- number of community groups and organisations involved/supported.
Chapter 9 of WRAP's Monitoring and Evaluation Guidance describes techniques for monitoring and evaluating waste prevention activities.