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Home > Communications and Education > Consumer Insight - 2014

Understanding barriers to plastics recycling

RECOUP has started a campaign to increase household recycling of plastics in the UK. Consumer education is one key driver - households need clear guidance on which plastics to recycle, why there are limitations, and feedback about how their actions make a difference.

RECOUP has published the document that sets out current recycling behaviours and the barriers to plastics recycling. The research has been undertaken by Icaro on behalf of RECOUP. The study was undertaken using primary funding support from DEFRA and the Kent Resource Partnership, with additional funding support from the plastics please steering group.

Research Objectives

The research has four objectives:

  • Establish current plastics recycling behaviours;
  • Assess the barriers to plastics recycling;
  • Explore the impact and efficacy of current sources of information and labelling in support of plastics recycling; and
  • Explore what could increase plastics recycling moving forward.


A survey of 4,000 adults aged 18+ in the UK was undertaken online from the 8th – 20th November 2013. This comprised 3,123 interviews in England, 409 in Scotland, 366 in Wales and 102 in Northern Ireland. Survey numbers across the UK nations broadly reflect their overall share of the population, but were boosted in Wales and Scotland to provide enhanced confidence in the sample sizes for these two nations. The survey took an average of 16 minutes to complete. Quotas were set on age, gender and work status (according to the known profile of the target population) as well as region (according to the distribution of the general population across the UK). Weighting has been applied post-hoc to ensure that the final sample is fully representative.

The summary document and related presentation slides are available for free download; please click on the downloadable links below;

  A consumer insight study March 2014

  Recoup - Understanding barriers to plastics recycling 2014 - results and data

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