Half of UK households throw recyclable items in general waste, says Wrap

23rd September 2019 | Recycling

As part of Recycle Week (23-29 September), the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP has released the results of its 2019 Recycling Tracker, an annual survey of UK households that collects information on recycling attitudes, knowledge and behaviours.

Key findings in the results highlight that over the past years 60 per cent of UK households report extra recycling of one or more items. However, over half of UK residents (51 per cent) dispose of recyclable items in the general waste and just over four in five (82 per cent) try to recycle one or more items at the kerbside that are not actually accepted locally, suggesting there is still consumer confusion over what can be recycled at home.

This year’s survey, organised by WRAP under the Recycle Now brand, gathered evidence from 5,452 online interviews, the largest sample size since the reports began in 2004. The most recent tracker also introduced a new question to assess the prevalence and strength of social norms around recycling, indicating that social norms are strongly associated with positive recycling behaviour and those who perceive a positive social norm dispose of more items correctly.

According to the tracker recyclable items that are most frequently placed in general waste instead of kerbside recycling – known as “missed capture” – are aluminium foil, aerosol cans and plastic detergent and cleaning product bottles. On average, households could recycle 1.6 more items at the kerbside.

In February 2019, the government launched a series of consultations on the policies put forward in its Resources and Waste Strategy, including on its proposals for consistency in household recycling collections. Following the results of the consultation on consistency, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced it will be seeking to amend legislation to require all councils in England to collect “at least” the following materials from 2023:

  • Glass bottles and containers – including drinks bottles, condiment bottles, jars
  • Paper and card – including newspaper, cardboard packaging, writing paper
  • Plastic bottles – including clear drinks containers, HDPE (milk containers), detergent, shampoo and cleaning products
  • Plastic pots tubs and trays
  • Steel and aluminium tins and cans

More information available on the website below