Changeworks received funding from Zero Waste Scotland to deliver the Volunteer and Community Advocate Programme in Edinburgh from 2015–2017. The objective was to galvanise and enable a local community and a community interest group to reduce waste and make full and correct use of their recycling services. 

Our approach

We recruited and trained a group of volunteers to help us deliver a programme of recycling and waste reduction activities to a number of Edinburgh university and college students and a small community of Edinburgh residents.

Empowering the communities

Over the course of two years our volunteers delivered a wide range of events and activities tailored to the students at Edinburgh University, Edinburgh Napier University, Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh College and Scottish Rural University College. These ranged from food waste workshops and a national coffee cup reuse campaign to clothes swaps and upcycled fashion shows at a number of events and fairs.

Our volunteers and community advocates engaged with the residents Pilton, Wardieburn, Muirhouse and Drylaw through a programme of door knocking, pop up stalls, recycling incentives and thank you cards. Granton Primary School pupils became involved in producing artwork for banners and cards, and hosted a toy swap and a school uniform swap to encourage reuse. 


The success of the Waste Wise Volunteers project was measured against ambitious targets set by Zero Waste Scotland. We achieved and surpassed those targets. Over the course of the project we recruited and trained 56 volunteers and community advocates who collectively gave 1,282 hours of their time to help us deliver 167 events, at which we engaged with over 4,000 individuals.

To illustrate one example of our impact, we surveyed a number of Wardieburn residents. They said that they had found visits by our volunteers useful, their street was looking cleaner and they had started recycling food waste, with a smaller number also recycling glass, small electricals, cardboard and paper.

“Thanks so much for all of your help. It’s made a difference!”  

Wardieburn resident

Empowered individuals and peers are powerful in encouraging communities to take action. This was demonstrated by our team of trained volunteers and community advocates, who were able to empower and motivate their communities to reduce waste and increase their use of local recycling services.