'Food Loop': Testing innovative approaches for achieving pro-environmental behaviours

Funded by: Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs


March 2009 to March 2010


Clare Brass (Royal College of Art), SEED Foundation

PSI researchers:

Ben Fagan-Watson

Background, summary and aims

Background, Scope and Aims

The aim of this project was to explore and evaluate how an innovative action-based research and engagement process – ‘co-design’ – can be used to develop more socially, economically and environmentally sustainable food waste management systems.

The project, called -Food Loop', operates on the Maiden Lane Estate in Camden, north London, and has seen the  community-led development of a closed-loop waste system, in which food waste is collected, composted and used to grow fruit and vegetables; a process which takes place entirely on site .

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Project Design

The project will follow a seven-step process:

  1. Initiate : A tailored communications campaign and introductory meeting will be used to introduce the project and generate interest in the project amongst people living on the estate.
  2. Formulate : A range of qualitative and quantitative research methods will be used to establish baseline information of existing neighbourhood characteristics and attitudes to current waste services.
  3. Generate : Action-based co-design workshops will be organised with residents, service providers and staff in order to develop communications materials and methods for a new food waste collection and food growing scheme.
  4. Operate : The new food waste collection scheme will be put into operation in collaboration with the Camden Council and contracted operator of the Maiden Lane Rocket Composter.
  5. Iterate : The scheme will be piloted, monitored and improved, through an iterative, action-research process.
  6. Celebrate : Marketing, branding and communication techniques will be used to disseminate and celebrate the project within and beyond Maiden Lane.
  7. Evaluate : Drawing on findings collected throughout the project’s one-year lifetime, the project will be evaluated to determine how successful it has been at changing waste behaviour on the estate, together with wider impacts.

Importance of Research

The project’s result s will be transferable through  the development of a community waste co-design toolkit, which will provide  other local councils and community groups with a step-by-step guide on how to use design processes when establishing and testing new waste and recycling collection schemes. The project is also likely to give insights in how to encourage a wider range of pro-environmental behaviours beyond waste and recycling, and will provide recommendations for engagement with hard to reach groups .

Related publications / project outputs

Food Loop – A technical research report for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Community co-design: A guide to working collaboratively through design