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I’m still hunting those elusive Birmingham Recycling Champions, but whilst searching for any semblance of their existence on the internet, I’ve discovered that the Recycling Champions scheme is actually a nationwide scheme!

Far from being a Birmingham City Council incentive, the Recycling Champions are a complex national network of crack recycling squads. They exist in Camden, Basingstoke, Cambridge and Cheltenham, as well as countless other cities and towns across the United Kingdom.

It would appear our beloved Champions are everywhere, and quite bizarrely, the text on each website advertising for champions appears to be incredibly similar. Is the Recycling Champions scheme much bigger than just local councils and do we need to go right to the top to find out where these Champions came from?
Perhaps not, but it would be interesting to find out how the council decided to come together on such a scheme, because from what I can find there hasn’t been any reported success anywhere else either. The closest I can find to any semblance of success is in Cheltenham, who at least appear to have a team of champions and regular meetings. Interestingly though, the Recycling Champions have recently become Community Champions, focusing on all environmental issues rather than just recycling (much like the EcoTeams initiative I covered for Birmingham Recycled, and in this blog, last week). Was this due to the amazing success of the scheme, or was focusing on just recycling not working?

I’ve also found that the scheme has some odd timing. Camden’s last advertisement for Champions came in 2005, whilst Birmingham’s most recent came in 2010. When did this campaign actually originate? Are we just late on the bandwagon?

With no-one from BCC wanting to give me any information on Recycling Champions (including Jeremy Shields, who commented on the linked article, as well as BCC’s address for actually becoming a champion), I’ve decided to divide and conquer. I’ve emailed a councillor from most consituencies of Birmingham in order to find out if this scheme is working. I’ve also decided to email organisers of the champions from Camden and Cheltenham in order to find out about the scheme.

Someone, somewhere, must know about this scheme and know at least one Recycling Champion.


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