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Thursday, 13 November 2008

Can I recycle it? A plea

The government is to fund a website to help people find recycling facilities, as the winner of its Show Us A Better Way competition

Can I Recycle It? will provide information on what can and cannot be put in recycling bins or has to be carted to a recycling centre based on users' postcodes.

This is a really great idea, especially in places where people aren't sure (because information provision isn't very good). It will be a great supplement for often dry or confusing information on poorly promoted local government websites.

But here's my plea. Instead of simply providing yet another website, widgetise the postcode interface so local authorities can bung it on their webpages and be sent off to the Can I recycle it? website. Like Transport Direct does with public transport information.

It would also be great if the website 'cross-sold' recycling messages and sent people back - perhaps using the data local government webbies submit to directgov - to local government website pages about stuff like hazardous waste disposal and locations of recycling centres.

It does sound, though, that this approach isn't in the planning.

Adam Temple, who came up with the idea, suggested that: "if it is in the database, the householder would get an immediate answer. If not, the question could be forwarded to the appropriate person in the local council. That person could then amend the database, and that way the website would gradually get more useful."

Which is the very definition of duplication.

POSTSCRIPT: Shane McCracken has pointed out (I'd forgotten it) that RecycleNow already does this exact same job. EXACT SAME.

Tom, explain quick. Or something will rub off.

Postscript: Picking up on my point about localdirectgov, Andy Key comments that:
you can link to their search with the postcode pre-set (e.g. Recycling near SO23 8US)
And PSF has picked up on this, finding out that the Cabinet Office will instead direct the winnings to RecycleNow!

The rider is that RecycleNow! needs to get some SEO happening as they ain't appearing in SERPs - the reason they were missed as a duplication for Can I Recycle It? in the first place.

I am very much noticing though that no-one is picking up my widgets point. As I have endlessly pointed out, the thing with widgets is that they drive traffic to your website and you don't lose customers along the way. The RecycleNow! is hidden away in a deadzone on their website.


  1. The other issue is that is seems as though the idea is a duplicate:

  2. Was on my way here to say exactly that. So why has this won the competition? Colour me baffled.

  3. Yup, just about does it all - and you can link to their search with the postcode pre-set (e.g. Recycling near SO23 8US). We already use this link in our "MyHantsweb" facility, where the user has registered his/her address with us.

    But your point about Directgov links is a good one. Halfway down that search results page, there's a panel headed "Contact your local council about..." which is crying out for some Local Directgov links based on your postcode. The Local Directgov team is already on the case...

  4. This is true, we are looking into these things. And we have a Local Directgov widget. Just trying to figure out the best way to package it up to make it easy for people to use...

  5. Hi Paul, Sorry, I'm on the Local Directgov team. We've got an LDG widget. I'm following up with Recycle Now.