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Pledge2Recycle Plastics Consumer Recycling Study

RECOUP commissioned an observational study to understand the barriers and behaviours of citizens when recycling plastic packaging.   Citizens are looking to the green dot symbol and mobius loop to indicate that a pack is recyclable.   The connection between any kind of swish type symbol and arrow and the link to recycling has been firmly made by the consumer to indicate that the pack can go into their kerbside recycling bin.

The study indicated that the consumers only reverted to looking for these symbols in the absence of clear recycling instructions on the front of the pack.  Where there was OPRL instructions easily detected on the front of the pack then consumers tended to try to follow these instructions and did not look further. 

The study also highlighted;

  • Salmonella and Kitchen Hygiene Concerns - Concerns over kitchen hygiene cross contamination from washing trays driving consumers to place uncooked meat trays (particularly trays that had contained uncooked) into general waste.
  • Unsure what Constitutes a ‘Food Tray’ or ‘Food Container’ – Where local instructions indicated ‘Food Trays’ or ‘Food Container’, this often lead to confusion particularly in the absence of images to explain the definition.   Consumers are unsure what to do with ready meal packaging or anything that has contained cooked and uncooked food?  
  • Can’t be Bothered to Clean - Citizens were unwilling to undertake the additional cleaning required before placing more soiled items of plastic packaging for recycling.
  • Removing Sleeves or Pump Sprays - The need to split some items of packaging before recycling was seen as too much hassle so either ended up contaminating recycling or going into general waste.
  • No Room in the Recycling Bin - Recycling capacity at home still played a key part in the decision to recycle larger items even if the person understood and knew that it was recyclable it could still end up in general waste due to the size.  

Click here to download the full study. 

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