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, having been undertaken by WRAP since 2004.
The survey uses boost sampling in Northern Ireland to provide a robust, enhanced sample of Northern Irish citizens. Fieldwork was undertaken online, from 20 - 30 March 2023. A total of 5,343 interviews were undertaken UK-wide with adults who have responsibility for dealing with the rubbish and recycling in the home. This included a sample of 563 adults in Northern Ireland. The sample matches the known profile of the Northern Ireland population, with quotas set on age, gender, region and social grade.
The survey provides insights into Northern Irish citizens’ attitudes towards recycling, as well as a greater understanding of their recycling-related behaviours. It provides the sector with insights on the intended user of the recycling reforms supporting governments, Local Authorities, and waste collectors with an understanding of the barriers and motivators that citizens face when participating in the system.
The tracker results demonstrate a number of key findings about recycling behaviour:
- Recycling is an established and normalised behaviour in Northern Ireland, with more than nine in ten (92%) Northern Irish citizens reporting that they regularly recycle.
- The survey suggests there is significant scope to recycle more foil (40% are missing the opportunity to recycle them), glass perfume / aftershave bottles (38%), aerosols (28%), plastic trays (23%) and plastic pots and tubs (15%).
- Recognition of the Recycle Swoosh and OPRL remains high – 67% and 61% respectively. There is notably more recognition of the ‘NI Recycles’ logo compared to the previously used ‘N Ireland recycles’ version – 27% in March 2023 vs. 18% in November 2022.
- Citizens attitudes to food waste were largely positive. Amongst other statements, 91% of NI citizens agreed that it is their responsibility as citizens to recycle their food waste.
- Almost eight in ten (78%) have and use a food waste service in Northern Ireland.
- Smells (15%), leaks and spills (13%) as well as maggots / flies (11%) are the top three barriers reported by all NI citizens who have access to a food waste collection. However, they are reported to a much higher extent by lapsed or non-users and less effective users. Less effective users are also much more likely to report barriers around lack of time or not wanting to handle ‘messy’ foods.
- Close to one in four (28%) Northern Irish citizens said they have heard something about the introduction of a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) in the UK.
- Additionally, half (52%) of Northern Irish citizens who have heard of the DRS think glass will be included alongside cans and plastic bottles; and there is significant uncertainty if the scheme will cover alcoholic drinks and milk bottles (in addition to soft drinks); the majority answered ‘don’t know’ (64% and 57%, respectively).
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