WRAP research shows four main barriers to recycling

LONDON, UK (RUSHPRNEWS) AUGUST 13, 2008–New research from the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has found four main barriers which stop people recycling more. The study outlines a series of simple steps to help local authorities overcome these. In the last ten years recycling rates have increased from 7% to 33% and two thirds of English households are now committed recyclers but this study shows there is great potential for those numbers to go higher if barriers can be overcome.

The study found that the barriers are:

Physical – when containers for collecting recycling are unsuitable; when there is no space for storage, when collections are unreliable; when people have no way of getting to recycling sites
Behavioural – if people are too busy; if they struggle with establishing a routine for sorting out recycling; if they forget to put it out
Lack of knowledge – not knowing which materials can be recycled; not understanding how their local scheme works
Attitudes and perceptions – not believing recycling is good for the environment; not wanting to sort waste; not feeling personally rewarded for recyclingWRAP found that very different messages and actions are needed by local authorities to overcome these barriers. These will include: improving recycling collection services, providing better information and practical advice on how to use the service, and showing why taking part is worthwhile.
WRAP commissioned the research in autumn 2007 to get a more in-depth understanding of what stops householders recycling or recycling less than they could. It involved a survey of 1,512 householders from a sample of nine local authorities in England, regionally representative and covering three different types of recycling scheme.

Significantly, for current recyclers (94% of the sample), there were significant barriers that prevented them recycling as much as they could.

For example:

Situational barriers – 52% of current recyclers said they would recycle more if they had collections of a wider range of materials.
Behavioural barriers – 48% of current recyclers still binned things because they were not sure they could be recycled.
Knowledge and understanding – less than half the sample (48%) understood ‘very well’ what they were supposed to use their recycling containers for.
Attitudes – 86% of recyclers would be encouraged to recycle more by seeing the practical impact of their recycling in their local area.
Phillip Ward, Director of Local Government Services at WRAP, said:

“Only by addressing these barriers will we get people to recycle more things more often.

“Good communication about their recycling service is vital but it will not persuade people to use services which are unreliable or too complicated.

“We believe this research will help local authorities boost their own recycling rates and to build on their existing successes. WRAP will continue to support local authorities in achieving this.’

Source: WRAP (the Waste & Resources Action Programme)