RECOUP Secures Funding for Plastics Recycling Communications Research

Plastics recycling charity RECOUP has secured a grant from Innovate UK to co-fund an industry-led communications and behaviour change research project in Kent.

RECOUP have brought together key industry partners, Kent Resource Partnership, Veolia, Viridor, Ocado, Ecosurety, British Plastics Federation, PlasticsEurope and PPS Recovery Systems to deliver this groundbreaking piece of research aimed at understanding better the connection between communications and plastics recycling.

RECOUP’s Pledge2Recycle Plastics citizen-facing brand will connect with the 673,000 households across Kent over a 12-month period to gain citizen insights, deliver plastics recycling messages and evaluate the resulting tonnage and contamination data. The project is the first of its kind to both deliver and measure (over an extended period) the impact recycling communications campaigns have on behaviour change. It is expected that the insights collected will provide evidence to support future plastics recycling engagement strategies.

Anne Hitch, Head of Citizen & Stakeholder Strategy at RECOUP and Pledge2Recycle Plastics project lead, said:

This project represents a fantastic opportunity for the plastics industry to better understand how we can reach 2025 recycling targets. The citizens of Kent have an opportunity to help formulate future policy and provide the UK with a blueprint demonstrating the links between plastics recycling communications and behaviour change.”

The ambitious project will connect with over 1.5 million citizens in a controlled, structured way. The advice on plastics recycling has been pre-agreed with all Kent Councils, Veolia and Viridor to provide a consistent message with resources based on previous piloted Pledge2Recycle Plastics ‘Cutting the Confusion’ campaigns and resource pack aligned with WRAP and Recycle Now. The project will provide an understanding of how plastics recycling targets can be met with clear linkages between communications investment and recycling growth.

Councillor Nick Kenton, Chairman of the Kent Resource Partnership, added:

The 13 Kent councils are very pleased to be working alongside RECOUP and other partners to deliver this Kent-wide plastics recycling campaign. The aim of this project is to engage with Kent residents to understand if there is any confusion when it comes to plastics recycling and how we can encourage citizens to reduce, reuse and recycle plastics. We look forward to seeing which interventions help with the quality and quantity of plastic recycling here in Kent.”

Helen Jordan, Senior Recycling Issues Executive at the British Plastics Federation, commented:

The British Plastics Federation is proud to be a part of this project, which will provide great insights into how to influence behaviour change and engage more people in plastic recycling. We look forward to being able to share the results to help show the most effective ways to communicate and ultimately drive up recycling rates throughout the UK.” 

Daniel Costigan, Sustainability Lead at Ocado Retail, said:

We’re delighted to be involved in this project to engage, educate and drive sustainable change in people’s recycling behaviours. This forms a fundamental part of being an industry leader in sustainability, helping customers to do the right thing; recycle more and better.” 

Viridor’s Sustainability Director, Tim Rotheray, commented:

Viridor knows that most people are committed to doing the right thing and recycling more. As a company that recycles and reprocesses plastic, Viridor is pleased to be part of an initiative that seeks to engage with residents and understand any confusion or barriers which exist.

 “Following up on this research is key to ensuring residents are armed with the knowledge and the confidence they need. Above all, we want them to understand that their efforts to separate and retain valuable recycling really does make a difference, underpinning the circular economy, which is the UK ambition.

“At Veolia, recycling is at the heart of everything we do, and we are proud to support this project which helps make significant steps towards building a circular economy and a greener future”, says David Fitzgerald, General Manager of Veolia. This innovative project will provide great insight into influencing behaviour change and help increase recycling rates in the areas in which we operate.”

PlasticsEurope welcomes the vision of UKRI in funding this first of a kind research to develop new communication approaches that will catalyse behaviour changes helping households maximise both the quantities and qualities of their recyclables, says Adrian Whyle, Resource Efficiency Senior Manager at PlasticsEurope. “Using a multi-stakeholder approach will help identify workable, replicable communication approaches in providing the essential recyclable streams required for the attainment of the UK’s circular economy goals.” 

Commenting on the partnership, Ecosurety said:

Ecosurety is delighted to be supporting this project and recognises the importance of educating and helping residents to ensure the quality of material that is generated at the kerbside is to a high standard to achieve a circular economy. This project will provide useful information into household recycling practices and help develop a clear and simple communication strategy to drive up recycling rates.

Laura Hutchings, Projects Officer of PPS Recovery Systems, concluded:

Good data and robust analysis are key to understanding and improving the resources sector. This includes scheme performance benchmarking and measuring consumer interactions with recycling messages. We are very excited to be involved in this initiative and look forward to bringing our data analysis and industry expertise to the project.”

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