Pushing the right buttons

Recycling systems are in place across the UK, so now we just have to get people to use them. Edward Perchard investigates how campaigns are seeking to drive behaviour change in residents. 

This article was taken from Issue 82

The vast majority of homes around the country have comprehensive recycling systems, that collect a variety of materials, all from the doorstep – a valet service that, in most instances, turns waste to resource with the minimum of user fuss. So why is our household recycling rate in the UK just 44 per cent? Why are some people simply not recycling, and what can be done to change that?

In a time when it has never been easier to get a message across thanks to the advent of social media, as well as more traditional means, communication is key. It might not have the glamour of Mad Men, but the route to increased recycling participation is, in many cases, through words.

Rachel Gray, Behaviour Change Manager at the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), says there are four general barriers to recycling at home. While the key barrier remains situational – the service itself – the three remaining obstacles all come down to communications: “The others are knowledge, motivation and behaviour. All of those areas can be addressed by communications. You need both a service and communications, and to make a recycling system work you need to consider them as a package.”