Improving the design and positioning of household bins could help to increase recycling rates, the findings of a six-month behavioural study indicate.
Researchers at the University of Exeter, in partnership with Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE), observed the behaviour of 20 households in the UK and France to understand the barriers to recycling.
They concluded the location and appearance of waste containers played an important role in either incentivising or discouraging separate collection of recyclables.
“Participants argued that more physical space is often needed to make recycling a more viable activity, and they aren’t prepared to compromise the aesthetics of their home to make room for a recycling bin,” said the report.
Another challenge was that recyclables often had to travel from one room to another and the likelihood of them being collected separately decreased if they ended up in a residual waste bin in the first instance.
As a result, CCE recommended to study the feasibility of initiatives such as changing the location or design of domestic bins and to introduce intermediate staging posts for recycling materials inside or outside homes.
The researchers also identified lack of awareness on the end destinations of recyclable materials as another major barrier to recycling.
They mentioned some householders questioned existing collection systems and referred to materials being sent to landfill or exported, as a result of hearing negative stories in the media.
“This misconception and scepticism prevents people from understanding the true value of recycling, often leading to apathy, which represents a major threat to the overall success of the collection and recycling process,” said the report.
CCE will be using the findings to support another step of its campaign to increase recycling rates. It has launched a 11-week initiative in partnership with OpenIDEO.com, an online platform for creative thinkers.
Members of the community are invited to submit ideas on how to encourage better recycling habits at home.