Behaviours, attitudes and awareness around recycling

Sep 8, 2022

Although recycling is third on the waste hierarchy, it isn’t to be underestimated. If you can’t reduce, or reuse an item, your next point of call should be recycling. Over the years attitudes towards recycling have changed hugely, in both good and not so good ways.

Recycling is now an established norm for businesses, but there is always room for improvement as there are still so many items that could be recycled that are sent to landfill instead. In addition some items are put in the wrong bins and can contaminate

The Recycling Tracker is the largest and longest running survey on recycling attitudes, values and behaviours. The Spring 2021 survey had a detailed focus on contamination, with previous waves of the tracker pointing to an increasing trend.

The March 2021 wave was undertaken with a total of 4,725 UK adults from 6-12 March 2021. Overall, the survey demonstrates the following:

The research also took a closer look at contamination and its causes.

The research suggests that contamination is largely the result of well-intentioned or misplaced attempts to recycle, as opposed to a lack of concern or care. For example, of those mistakenly putting drinking glasses in the recycling, the vast majority (86%) think that it is accepted in their kerbside collection.

The same pattern is true for other key contaminants, such as toothpaste tubes (84% think it is accepted in their collection) and light bulbs (72%).


Recycle Week 2022 – time to take action on recycling

Recycle Week 2022 has been postponed, and will now be from 17–23 October

Recycle Week is Recycle Now’s flagship annual event which is a celebration of recycling across the nation. It’s the one week of the year where retailers, brands, waste management companies, trade associations, governments and the media come together to achieve one goal: to galvanise the public into recycling more of the right things, more often.

Recycle Week is set to be a major event in the calendar this year, coming hot on the heels of last year’s campaign which was the most successful to date – with over 29 million digital impressions, and 82% of people saying they had changed their behaviour as a result of seeing Recycle Week 2021 content.

Find out more about the nation’s annual celebration of recycling.

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