The Recycling Tracker is an annual survey of UK households designed to gather evidence on consumers’ current attitudes, knowledge and behaviour in relation to recycling, both dry recyclables/packaging and food.

The Recycling Tracker is an annual survey of UK households that gathers evidence on recycling attitudes, knowledge and behaviour. It is the largest and longest running of its kind. A total of 5,297 interviews were undertaken in March 2020.

The analysis compares respondents’ self-reported recycling behaviour to the known kerbside service provision in their area (using a database of Local Authority schemes maintained by WRAP). This enables householders’ behaviour to be understood in the context of their local service.

Key findings

  • Overall levels of recycling are high and an established norm with almost nine in ten (87%) UK households saying they ‘regularly’ recycle.
  • There is a trend towards increased/more consistent levels of recycling with just over three in five (62%) UK households report extra recycling of one or more items in the past year.
  • Half (50%) of UK households are classified as “higher performing recyclers”, that is they dispose of two or less items incorrectly, however, there remains opportunities to improve recycling performance as one in four (25%) dispose of 3-4 items incorrectly, while the same proportion (25%) are classified as “lower performing recyclers”, that is they dispose of 5+ items incorrectly.
  • Over three quarters (77%) of UK households identify with at least one barrier that leads to them sometimes putting items in the general rubbish rather than the recycling. The most frequently cited barrier (by 38% of households) is uncertainty about what can/can’t be recycled. There are also some notable scheme/service delivery barriers.
  • Two in there (67%) UK citizens have seen the Recycle Now 'Swoosh' logo in the past year, and around half (51%) have seen On-Pack Recycling Labelling (OPRL) Smaller proportions have seen 'Britain Recycles' (14% and 'Britain Does' (7%) - both recent additions in 2018.
  • What is also clear is that the campaign materials are useful at accessing different audiences. For example, recognition of the 'Swoosh' is highest amoung those in rural areas, those with Children at home, 35-54s and women. By contrast, recognition of Britain Recycles and Britain Does is highest amoung a different demographic - 18-34s, those in urban areas, and lower performing recyclers (i.e. dispose of 5+ items incorrectly.
  • Those that have seen the Recycle Now brand are more likely to report increased recycling, particularly the 'Britain Recycles/Does' social norm messaging.

Previous reports:

Recycling Tracking Survey 2019

Recycling Tracking Survey 2018

Recycling Tracking Survey 2017

Recycling Tracking Survey 2016

Recycling Tracking Survey 2015

Recycling Tracking Survey 2014

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  • WRAP Recycling Tracker Report 2020

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