Pilot reveals consumer attitudes to metal recycling

A pilot to increase metal recycling has shown that raising awareness can improve recycling rates by 12.9%.

Norman Lett, project leader metalmatters

Norman Lett, project leader metalmatters

The project was carried out by metalmatters, a partnership between UK drinks can manufacturers, WRAP and the aluminium and steel packaging and recycling industries.

The group's aim is to encourage people to recycle more using current kerbside recycling schemes. Research has shown that while 95% of local authorities offer metal recycling, only around 40-50% of people use them.

Metalmatters worked with Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council and East Hampshire District Council to run at community outreach programme covering 60,000 households.

The programme was designed to highlight misconceptions about recycling and to educate consumers about what metal objects can be recycled and the benefits that brings.

During the campaign there was an overall attitudinal shift with almost one in five respondents saying the campaign had encouraged them to recycle more metals.

The post project research showed a 22% increase in those who reported recycling 17 or more items regularly.

500 additional requests were made for recycling boxes in one month.

Metalmatters project leader, Norman Lett, said: "The project's goal was to increase existing household metal recycling rates by at least 10% and create a 'best practice' model.

"We came to understand that the key to success was education, to encourage people to recycle more things, more often. In our pre-campaign research many people thought recycling was either a waste of time or that, despite their best efforts, the materials then didn't actually get recycled.

"Metals are a precious resource as they are infinitely recyclable and it makes a real difference if they go back into the recycling loop. The consumer wanted reassurance of this."

Research was based on a previously published WRAP study into barriers to recycling, and an analysis of metal recycling in England across demographic and recycling scheme type.

The Acorn classification tool was used to evaluate demographic groups alongside recycling behaviour and competence levels.

Metalmatters' funding partners are BCME (Beverage Can Makers Europe), WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme), Novelis, the aluminum recycler and Tata Steel Packaging Recycling.

For more information Alison Brown

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