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This report presents key highlights from the recycling section of the 2015 3Rs tracking survey that have implications for recycling practices and communications.

Key points
  • Capture: Just under half (46%) of UK households say that on the last disposal occasion they disposed of at least one material in the general rubbish bin that their council collects as part of the kerbside recycling collection
  • Quality: 47% of households are putting at least one material in their recycling that is not intended to be collected locally for recycling


The 3Rs survey has been a staple of WRAP’s research portfolio for nearly a decade, initially focusing on recycling (the Recycle Now survey), and expanding in recent years to also cover re-use and repair (the 3Rs).

The survey was undertaken online between 27th February and 13th March 2015 by Icaro. Respondents were part of online panels1 across the four UK nations.

A total of 4,512 interviews were completed with sample sizes in each of the four nations as follows: England (1,810), Scotland (1,101), Wales (1,101) and Northern Ireland (500).

The UK sample overall is representative of the target audience, i.e. adults aged 18+ who passed the initial filter of being at least jointly responsible for waste and recycling in the household. Nationally representative quotas were set on age within gender, region within nation and work status to ensure a representative sample were given the opportunity to answer this filter question.

Download the full report >>


Introduction >>
Key Findings >>
Levels of dry recycling across the UK >>
Opportunities to increase capture and improve quality >>
Increasing effective dry recycling >>
Food waste recycling >>
Levels of confidence >>
Knowledge of recycling collection services >>
Lids, tops and rinsing out >>
Communications >>

Key findings

  • Claimed levels of recycling are high across a range of materials (Figure 1). When recycling at kerbside as well as by other means (such as at HWRCs and communal facilities at flats) are taken into account, four materials were recycled ‘last time’ 5 by 90% or more of householders: cardboard (92%), paper (90%), plastic bottles (90%) and glass (90%).
  • A high proportion of some materials are still disposed of in the general rubbish – particularly soft plastic packaging6 (54% of respondents disposed of this in the general rubbish), food waste (50%) and foil (41%). Sizeable proportions also dispose of aerosols (30%) and food/drink cartons (30%) in the general rubbish.
  • For many materials, there has been no significant change in disposal routes since 2014. For others, however, there have been some statistically significant changes.
  • Between the 2013 and 2014 waves, plastic pots, tubs and trays showed a reduction of 8 percentage points in households disposing of these in the general rubbish. This year, the downward trend continues with a fall of a further 2 percentage points, although this is not statistically significant.
  • Other materials show small yet statistically significant decreases in the proportion of households disposing of them in the general rubbish since 2014. These are drinks cartons, soft plastic packaging and garden waste, (all fall 3 percentage points).
  • Age has a statistically significant bearing on self-reported recycling across materials. Rates of recycling paper, card, cans/tins, aerosols and foil all increase in line with age. For example, 48% and 50% of those aged 18-24 and 35-34, respectively, recycle foil compared with 64% of those aged 65+.
Claimed disposal routes by material

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  • WRAP-3Rs-Recycling-Highlights-2015-FINAL-FOR-PUBLICATION.pdf

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