Recycling Tracker Report

The Recycling Tracker is an annual survey of UK households designed to gather evidence on consumers’ current attitudes, knowledge and behaviour in relation to recycling, both dry recyclables/packaging and food.


Key Findings for 2017:

  • Just over half (53%) of UK households dispose of one or more items in the general rubbish that is in fact collected for recycling in their area. 
  • Close to three quarters of UK households (76%) add one or more item to their recycling collection that is not accepted locally.
  • The scope for improvement is highest among younger households aged 18-34. 
  • The most common items not captured for recycling are foil (26%), aerosols (20%) and plastic cleaning bottles (16%).
  • For contamination, common items include plastic bags and wrapping (29%), dirty pizza boxes (23%), toothpaste tubes (22%), Tetra Pak (17%), bubble wrap (16%) and plastic carrier bags (15%).
  • Almost half (48%) select the statement “I want to be a really good recycler and I take the trouble to ensure that I’m doing everything right”. There is a clear age gradient with 60% of those aged 55+ saying they want to be a good recycler, compared to 34% of 18-24s.  
  • 65% of the UK population cite not being sure about what can be put in the recycling bin as a reason for occasionally putting items in the residual waste bin.
  • While understanding the importance of food waste recycling and what happens to recycled food once collected has increased, awareness still lags behind dry recycling.
  • 48% of food waste recyclers put food items in the general rubbish. The most commonly cited items are: tea bags/coffee grounds (20%); unopened food still in the packaging (19%); bones (18%); and egg shells (18%).


Previous reports:

2016 Recycling Tracker report

2015 3R (recycling, reuse and repair) report

2014 3R (recycling, reuse and repair) report