WRAP publishes new barriers to recycling at home report

12th December 2014

Emerging barriers highlight where householders face challenges with recycling

Clearer communication plays key role to overcoming barriers

Research from WRAP supported by Defra, Zero Waste Scotland, and the Welsh and Northern Ireland Governments reveals new and emerging barriers to recycling at home, which if tackled could help householders recycle more effectively. Uncertainty over the collection of plastic materials and food waste in particular present the most confusion.  

The insights come from the latest ‘Barriers to recycling at home’, report , which reaffirms the original four main barriers identified as situational, behavioural, knowledge and attitudinal previously identified by WRAP in 2008. It also recognises that barriers are inter-dependent, often a householders behaviour, knowledge and attitude to recycling is defined by the type of property they live in, their personal circumstances and the collection service they receive. 

The report highlights very specific challenges that impact on recycling rates, such as householders who are confused by the introduction of new materials for recycling such as plastics and food waste, or lack confidence in their ability to recycle due to changes in collection services combined with uncertainty of what is required of them. Challenges which councils and waste management companies can help residents overcome by providing clear, simple messages around what can be recycled locally. 

The updated report not only examines the barriers that householders are facing, it also considers how effective people are when recycling. This is reinforced by the annual 3R’s (Recycling, Reuse and Repair) tracking survey, which reveals that 75% of UK householders surveyed* recycle in some way. 25% of those are classed as highly effective recyclers who consistently recycle all materials accepted by their local service without including non-targeted materials in their recycling collection. The other 50% need more guidance on what can be recycled to ensure they are recycling all that they can and not including items that are not currently recycled by their local service.

WRAP will be introducing a number of initiatives in 2015 to help our partners tackle the barriers and improve recycling rates. This includes a refresh of Recycle Now with new communication resources and a tool directly for residents with the re-launch of the existing postcode locator on www.recyclenow.com, which enables consumers to access up to date information about their own local recycling scheme.  

Marcus Gover, Director at WRAP commented: “In the past ten years we’ve seen a significant rise in recycling rates; however we still have a long way to go. Using the findings of the ‘Barriers to recycling at home’ report, we know where to focus our attention when giving support and guidance to partners, ensuring that they are able to offer the right service which allows more residents to recycle highly effectively.”

A full list of existing communications resources is available for download from the WRAP resource library http://partners.wrap.org.uk/, the postcode locator can be found on the Recycle Now website www.recyclenow.com. 

Notes to editor:

*The 3Rs survey was undertaken online in spring 2014 a total of 4,476 interviews were conducted. The survey is supported by Defra, Zero Waste Scotland, and the Welsh and Northern Ireland Governments.


1.    WRAP works with businesses, individuals and communities to help them reap the benefits of reducing waste, developing sustainable products and using resources in an efficient way.

2.    Established as a not-for-profit company in 2000, WRAP is backed by government funding from England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

3.    More information on all of WRAP's programmes can be found on www.wrap.org.uk



Stephanie Campbell

Consumer Campaigns PR & Project Manager – Recycling
01295 817859