WRAP research shows four main barriers to recycling
New research from the Waste & Resources Action Programme
(WRAP) has found four main barriers which prevent people
from recycling. The study outlines a series of simple
steps to help local authorities overcome these barriers.
In the last 10 years, recycling rates have increased
from 7 to 33 percent and two-thirds of English households
are now committed recyclers. This study shows there is
great potential for those numbers to go higher if barriers
can be overcome.
The study found that the four main barriers are:
Physical: when containers for collecting recycling
are unsuitable; when there is no space for storage,
when collections are unreliable; when people have
no way of getting to recycling sites
Behavioral: if people are too busy; if they struggle
with establishing a routine for sorting out recycling;
if they forget to put it out
Lack of knowledge: not knowing which materials can
be recycled; not understanding how their local
Attitudes and perceptions: not believing recycling
is good for the environment; not wanting to sort
waste; not feeling personally rewarded for recycling
WRAP found that very different messages and actions are
needed by local authorities to overcome these barriers.
These will include improving recycling collection services,
providing better information and practical advice on
how to use the service.
WRAP commissioned the research in autumn 2007 to get
a more in-depth understanding of what stops residents
from recycling or causes them to recycle less than they
could. It involved a survey of 1,512 householders from
a sample of nine local authorities in England, regionally
representative and covering three different types of
Significantly, for current recyclers (94 percent of the
sample), there were significant barriers that prevented
them recycling as much as they could.
Situational barriers: 52 percent of current recyclers
said they would recycle more if they had collections
of a wider range of materials.
Behavioral barriers: 48 percent of current recyclers
still binned things because they were not sure they
could be recycled.
Knowledge and understanding: less than half the
sample (48 percent) understood “very well” what
they were supposed to use their recycling containers
Attitudes: 86 percent of recyclers would be encouraged
to recycle more by seeing the practical impact of
their recycling in their local area.