Recycling, composting and reusing behaviours

posted 10.12.2009
At we're not just interested in building supplies. We love finding out about the eco-behaviours of the general public. In this survey respondents were asked to consider their current behaviour and willingness to act in relation to five recycling, composting and reusing behaviours (using the stages of change response scale). A breakdown of responses from the 2009 survey is provided in Table 20, dividing respondents into the five summary groups associated with the stages of change scale.

20 Recycling, composting and reusing

When asked whether they "recycle more items rather than throwing them away‟ a large majority (91%) of respondents fell into the maintenance category (including all those currently acting and those who may not be doing it as much or as often as they would like). This represents a significant increase in this behaviour since the 2007 Defra survey, in which 70% of respondents reported that they were already recycling more items than throwing them away. Table 21 summarises these results.

21 Recycling -stages of change response scale

Respondents were asked about taking their own shopping bags when they went shopping and also about the frequency of doing this. The majority (84%) of respondents reported that they were already taking their own shopping bags and intending to continue (the maintenance stage), with only small numbers of respondents at each of the other stages. It is relevant to note that there has been a reduction in the availability of single use carrier bags over the last two years, informed by voluntary agreements between the Government and leading retailers

Most respondents were also reusing items like plastic bottles and glass jars, with three quarters of respondents reporting they were maintaining this behaviour. One in ten (11%), however, were still at the pre-contemplation stage and had not considered doing this before, and a similar proportion (8%) had rejected the behaviour.

Slightly fewer than half (43%) of respondents said they were already composting household food or garden waste and intended to keep this up (the maintenance stage) while a fifth were at the pre-contemplation stage. A further fifth had thought about composting household food or garden waste but had rejected the idea. Those who were already composting household food and garden waste included people who had a compost heap or composter at home as well as those who were using composting collections provided by their council.

Of the five items covered, respondents were least likely to be checking whether an item could be recycled before purchasing. For this behaviour, nearly half (49%) of respondents fell into the pre-contemplation stage – having never thought about doing this or never heard of this. Nearly a third (29%) of respondents said they were already doing this (the maintenance stage), while 14% had rejected the idea.

Category: environment, general, recycling