23 November 2021

UK study commissioned into recycling behaviours outside of the home

One-year research project at Lancaster University will explore incentives for recycling on-the-go.

© Pawel Czerwinski/Unsplash

Behaviours into recycling are to be researched in order to understand how we can better incentivise people to recycle outside of the home.

Specialist PET (polyethylene terephthalate) recycler Enviroo, UK, has commissioned a one-year Masters research project at the Centre for Global Eco-Innovation, at Lancaster University, UK, which will look into behaviours around recycling and discover what incentivises consumers to recycle whilst on-the-go.

Enviroo plans to develop a customised reverse vending machine that can collect consumers recyclable waste outside of the home. This project will investigate how best to encourage consumers to continually use this facility.

The research is supported by the Eco-I North West project. The £14mln initiative enables businesses to collaborate with and access the extensive knowledge base, research facilities, and skills of six of the region’s leading universities including Lancaster. It is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund and allows Enviroo access to the research body of a Top Ten ranked University helping create an ‘R&D arm’ for their enterprise.  

The Masters research is creating the foundation of a PhD that will focus on the feasibility of a multi-disciplinary product deposit return scheme (DRS) encompassing a wider range of packaging. 

Based within Lancaster University’s Psychology department, Masters student, Elisabeth Checketts, will investigate why there is a discrepancy in people’s recycling behaviours, with many people more confident in recycling at home compared to when on-the-go.

The focus will be on determining the attitudes, motivations and likely incentives in order to change people’s behaviour and make on-the-go recycling habitual. The project will also investigate how to make a DRS successful (rather than just a one-off occasional behaviour); what products the consumer would be interested in recycling and how best to incentivise consumers to use these machines to recycle on the go.

Discussing the project, Checketts explained, “I am delighted to be researching behaviours around recycling, working with Enviroo to have a practical impact on people’s recycling habits. I believe it is vital to understand people’s behaviours around recycling if we are to create a scheme that becomes habitual for consumers and help the UK move away from exporting our waste overseas. It would also be fantastic to conduct some practical trials of return schemes on campus. I look forward to publishing my findings, helping Enviroo create a transparent and successful deposit return scheme”.