What’s stopping us recycling?

A lack of storage space or access to recycling sites, confusion over collection days and skepticism about the environmental benefits are just some of the obstacles stopping people recycling more.

The government-funded Waste & Resources Action Plan (WRAP) has carried out research investigating the barriers preventing a further rise in household recycling rates – and offering local authorities advice on overcoming them.

According to WRAP, these barriers can be broken down into four distinct areas – physical, behavioural, lack of knowledge and attitudes and perceptions.

On the physical front, people struggle when containers for collecting recycling are unsuitable or there is no space for storage, when collections are unreliable and when they have no way of getting to recycling sites.

Behavioural obstacles include people being too busy, having difficulty with establishing a routine for sorting out recycling or simply if they forgetting to put it out at the right time.

In many cases people also lack the knowledge of how their scheme works or what materials can be recycled.

Attitudes and perceptions throws up a mixed bag of barriers, with some people doubting the environmental benefits of recycling, while others feel they are not adequately rewarded for doing the right thing and others are feel that sorting through waste is dirty.

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.”

Sam Bond

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