A new study commissioned by Coca-Cola has discovered that many of us don’t have “an accurate understanding” of recycling, and are sceptical with the whole process.
The study, which was carried out by the University of Exeter and commissioned by the soft drink giant, was published earlier this week. Researchers followed 20 families in both the UK and France, across a six-month period, and found that their home habits had a ‘significant influence’ on their recycling rates.
The study found that for many people the lack of space in their homes put people off recycling. Many people are reluctant to introduce an extra space for a recycling bin.
Amongst the problems people had with recycling, was a sceptical feeling that their recyclables were simply being sent to landfill or sent abroad for sorting. This was a view supported by several high-profile media reports which had suggested as much.
The report argued that this scepticism led to “apathy, which represents a major threat to the overall success of the collection and recycling process.” The other problem many of us have with recycling is a misguided belief that recycling is a linear process. We often assume that recycling ends when we discard an item. The study found that this misconception prevented people from seeing the whole picture when it comes to recycling, again leading to apathy.
The study found that more needed to be done across the board to try and get people to engage with recycling. This would include intervening at moments “when households are most open to change”, using digital communication to create a sense of community, and improve education methods to “demystify and demonstrate the value of recycling.”
In particular it was felt that teenagers needed to be engaged with recycling, as they were the group who were most confused and apathetic about recycling in general.
Following on from the study Coca-Cola are planning to launch a campaign, with the backing of the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), which will seek to understand why recycling rates in both France and the UK remain much lower then the amount of people claiming to recycle regularly.
The campaign will include a link to design community website OpenIDEO where users can access an online challenge to encourage people across Europe to recycle more.
Chief Executive of WRAP, Dr. Liz Goodwin said the UK “has made fantastic progress in recycling over the last ten years (however) there’s still more we can all do. The Recycling Challenge is a great way to stimulate debate, share expertise and encourage creativity around recycling to create real change.”
Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Director for Coca-Cola, Joe Franses said that the company understood that as a manufacturer they have “a responsibility to address today’s social and environmental challenges.”
Mr Franses said that by working with OpenIDEO and WRAP that the company could help to “generate ideas that could deliver real change in at-home recycling habits.”
It’s important that everyone is made aware of the benefits of recycling and realises just how much an impact they can make by recycling their waste products. Remember, that nothing we collect goes to landfill but is instead recycled in the correct way.