RECOUP wins Innovate UK funding

Plastics recycling organisation RECOUP has secured a grant from Innovate UK to co-fund an industry-led communications and behaviour change research project in Kent. 

RECOUP has brought together industry partners, Kent Resource Partnership, Veolia, Viridor, Ocado, Ecosurety, British Plastics Federation, Plastics Europe and PPS Recovery Systems to deliver research aimed at better understanding the connection between communications and plastics recycling.

Plastic bottlesInnovate UK is part of public body UK Research and Innovation, tasked with supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas.

The organisation aims to ‘de-risk, enable and support innovation’ through funding business and research collaborations, in order to accelerate innovation and drive investment into research and development.

RECOUP’s Pledge2Recycle Plastics citizen-facing brand will connect with the 673,00 households across Kent over a 12-month period, to gain citizen insights, deliver plastics recycling messages and evaluate the resulting tonnage and contamination data.    

The project will connect with over 1.5 million citizens in a controlled, structured way. 

The advice on plastics recycling has been pre-agreed with all Kent Councils, Veolia and Viridor to provide a consistent message with resources based on previous piloted Pledge2Recycle Plastics ‘Cutting the Confusion’ campaigns and resource pack aligned with recycling outreach initiatives, WRAP and Recycle Now.  

This pilot campaign provided digital resources to inform and advise the public on responsible plastics recycling practices.

RECOUP’S project is the first of its kind to both deliver and measure, over an extended period, the impact recycling communications campaigns have on behaviour change.

It is expected that the insights collected will provide evidence to support future plastics recycling engagement strategies, including plastics recycling targets and solidifying linkages between communications investment and recycling growth / action.

Anne Hitch, Head of Citizen and Stakeholder Strategy at RECOUP and Pledge2Recycle Plastics project lead, commented: “This project represents a fantastic opportunity for the plastics industry to better understand how we can reach 2025 recycling targets.

“The citizens of Kent have an opportunity to help formulate future policy and provide the UK with a blueprint demonstrating the links between plastics recycling communications and behaviour change.”
Cllr Nick Kenton, Chairman of the Kent Resource Partnership, said: “The 13 Kent councils are very pleased to be working alongside RECOUP and other partners to deliver this Kent-wide plastics recycling campaign.

“The aim of this project is to engage with Kent residents to understand if there is any confusion when it comes to plastics recycling and how we can encourage citizens to reduce, reuse and recycle plastics.”

“We look forward to seeing which interventions help with the quality and quantity of plastic recycling here in Kent.”

Helen Jordan, Snr Recycling Issues Executive of The British Plastics Federation Commented: “The British Plastics Federation is proud to be a part of this project, which will provide great insights into how to influence behaviour change and engage more people in plastic recycling.

“We look forward to being able to share the results to help show the most effective ways to communicate and ultimately drive-up recycling rates throughout the UK.”

Adrian Whyle, Resource Efficiency Senior Manager of Plastics Europe Commented: “Plastics Europe welcomes the vision of UKRI in funding this first of a kind research to develop new communication approaches that will catalyse behaviour changes helping households maximise both the quantities and qualities of their recyclables.

“Using a multi-stakeholder approach will help identify workable, replicable communication approaches in providing the essential recyclable streams required for the attainment of the UK’s Circular Economy goals.”