Claimed Recycling Habits Materials

People appear to claim recycling participation in relation to a subconscious model of 'good behaviour'. The London surveys suggest that 'model' recycling behaviour is defined principally in relation to paper and glass, which are recycled regularly by around half of survey households. High recyclers tend to define themselves so principally on the basis of their habits for paper and glass.

Recycling participation is low for all other materials, and across all types of household (except clothing which is often disposed of outside the municipal waste stream). Only one in five London survey households regularly recycles anything other than paper and glass. (Self-reported) effectiveness of participation is variable, even amongst high participation households. Between 30 and 50% of regularly recycling households are not consistently recycling even the 'model' materials of paper and glass. Less than a quarter of committed recyclers recycle food and drink cans regularly, and regular plastics recycling is negligible, even amongst high recyclers. These findings emphasise the degree to which people's accepted norms about recycling will have to be transformed if recycling in London is to increase significantly.

The survey results suggest a need for both greater participation and effective recovery of materials for which there is an established 'norm' of behaviour, as well as a need to engage committed recyclers in recycling a wider range of materials.

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