Where Does the Recycling Go? [REPORT]

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A common question raised by members of the public participating in household recycling schemes provided by local councils is “Where does our recycling go?”

The Resource Association commissioned YouGov plc to undertake a survey to examine public awareness of what happens to materials they put out for recycling, in terms of the types of products they are made into and the geographical destinations of the recyclable materials. The public was also asked about the provision of information on what happens to recycling and whether more would encourage them to recycle more.

2078 adults were sampled across the UK on 11-14 May. 73% of respondents said that they don’t know the exact location of where the materials they put out for recycling go and 65% don’t know what these materials will be made into. In the same survey, 68% of adults said that more information should be available on what happens to recycled materials in terms of their destination and end use and 32% said that they would be more or much more likely to recycle if this information was available. The full report is available to download.

The increase in UK recycling over the last decade or so is certainly a success story for local authorities and the recycling and reprocessing industries alike. However, what is clear from the surveys undertaken is that there is a platform of public support upon which improvements can be made to the provision of information to the public on recycling and where recycling goes that will help to motivate people to recycle more, an important factor to take into account as we strive for the next level of improvement in recycling rates.

In the spirit of the times in which increased transparency of the delivery of public services is a Government priority, we believe that the reprocessing industry, the recycling supply chain and local authorities can and should work together to respond to public interest in what happens to recycling.

To do this, the Resource Association, supported by the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC) Executive has launched the End Destinations of Recycling Charter. This is a voluntary commitment by councils to publish Registers of End Destinations of Recyclates by June 2013, and to improve further the level of public information available on what happens to recycling. In our view, this will contribute to cementing public confidence in the recycling process through access to clear information designed to generate awareness of the value inherent in recycling, whether reprocessing of materials into quality products happens in the UK or overseas.

We encourage all councils to support the Charter, and all companies and organisations that share our desire for improved public information are also invited to show their support.

Download a copy of the full report

Download a copy of the report data set