CCE study reveals recycling habits

Coca-Cola Enterprises has commenced a study with ten GB households to understand why recycling rates are so low despite people expressing strong beliefs towards environmental behaviours.

Preliminary research commissioned by CCE and carried out by YouGov shows that 76% of British consumers claim to “always” recycle plastic bottles at home and over 64% view recycling as “a moral and environmental duty”. However, actual at-home recycling rates do not reflect such intentions and reveal a significant ‘value-action gap’ as half of all plastic bottles are not collected for recycling. In addition to creating unnecessary waste, this also results in a critical shortage in the supply of locally available high-quality recycled PET for manufacturers.

The release of the initial survey findings marks the next phase of a ground-breaking six-month study with a renowned research institute at the University of Exeter.

Supported by CCE’s Recycle for the Future campaign, the study will observe ten GB households over a six-month period, to explore the dynamics that drive waste and recycling behaviours in the home. Together with the participants, they will also explore solutions that could influence such behaviours and eventually improve at-home recycling rates. Results will be shared with local authorities, NGOs and other businesses who are trying to influence environmental behaviours in the home, with the aim of collectively developing solutions that will help improve recycling rates.

Dr. Stewart Barr from the College of Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Exeter, said: “Our research team has been working on pro-environmental behaviour change for many years and we are very familiar with the ‘value/action gap’. People say they want to be environmentally friendly and want to recycle, but in many cases they don’t. This study will explore the intricacies of household decisions on recycling and identify actions that could to drive long-term consumer behaviour change.”

The study will explore questions such as:

  • Who are the environmental champions in the home? Preliminary research reveals a generation gap, with just 54% claiming to always recycle plastic bottles, compared to 87% of over 55s.
  • What is the impact of on-pack information? More than a third (37%) of respondents say they would like to see more information on packaging about what can be recycled, yet 60% state they never check whether a pack is recyclable when they go shopping.
  • Is a lack of understanding in the infrastructure partly responsible for low recycling rates? Over 30% of people in both countries believe the materials they collect are not recycled.


CCE has identified that packaging accounts for almost half of its carbon footprint. As part of its commitment to reduce the carbon footprint of its products by a third by 2020, the company has committed to recycle more packaging than it uses.

The study follows significant investment from CCE in a strategic infrastructure partnership to increase plastics reprocessing capacity in Great Britain. Its results will be announced at CCE’s Sustainability Innovation Conference in September 2013.

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