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RECOUP receives funding for plastics recycling communications research

Innovate UK grant to help fund recycling education project in Kent.


RECOUP (Recycling of Used Plastics Ltd.,) Peterborough, U.K., has received a grant from Innovate UK to co-fund an industry-led communications and behavior change research project in Kent that brings together Kent Resource Partnership, Veolia, Viridor, Ocado, Ecosurety, British Plastics Federation, Plastics Europe and PPS Recovery Systems.

RECOUP’s Pledge2Recycle Plastics will connect with the 673,00 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 organization says. The project will deliver and measure over time the impact recycling communications campaigns have on behavior change. The nonprofit says it expects the insights collected will provide evidence to support future plastics recycling engagement strategies.

Anne Hitch, head of citizen and stakeholder strategy at RECOUP and Pledge2Recycle Plastics project lead, says, “This project represents a fantastic opportunity for the plastics industry opportunity to better understand better 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 behavior change.”  

The project will connect with more than 1.5 million citizens to deliver advice on plastics recycling that has been agreed on by 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.

Councillor Nick Kenton, chairman of the Kent Resource Partnership, says, “The 13 Kent councils are very pleased to be working alongside RECOUP and other partners to deliver this Kentwide 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, London, says, “The British Plastics Federation is proud to be a part of this project, which will provide great insights into how to influence behavior 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.”

“We’re delighted to be involved in this project to engage, educate and drive sustainable change in people’s recycling behaviors,” Daniel Costigan, sustainability lead at U.K.-based Ocado Retail, says, “This forms a fundamental part of our being an industry leader in sustainability, helping customers to do the right thing; recycle more and better.”

London-based Viridor Waste Management Ltd. Sustainability Director Tim Rotheray adds, “Viridor knows that most people are committed to doing the right thing and recycling more. As a company which 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 the 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 U.K. 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 for Veolia UK, who is based out of Dover. “This innovative project will provide great insight into influencing behavior change and help increase recycling rates in the areas in which we operate.”

“Plastics Europe welcomes the vision of UKRI in funding this first of a kind research to develop new communication approaches that will catalyze behavior changes helping households maximize both the quantities and qualities of their recyclables,” Adrian Whyle, resource efficiency senior manager at Belgium-based Plastics Europe says. “Using a multistakeholder 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.”

Laura Hutchings, projects officer at PPS Recovery Systems Ltd., Peterborough, says, “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.”