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PET recycling rates are lower in Great Britain

University academic works with manufacturing giant on project to influence consumer recycling behaviour

Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) which produces, markets and distributes Coca-Cola products in Western Europe, recently announced the details of a new project led by Dr Stewart Barr in Geography which will try to understand household recycling behaviours.

Recycling rates in Great Britain and France remain below most other European countries, despite growing awareness of environmental concerns among consumers.

Only approximately half of plastic bottles are collected for recycling in these countries; as a result, manufacturers face restrictions in the supply of locally available recycled PET.

While consumers express strong beliefs related to recycling, at-home recycling rates do not reflect their intent. 79% of consumers polled at the 2012 Olympics Games claimed to always recycle plastic bottles at home, yet national data shows that recycling rates are much lower.

The research programme announced today will seek to define interventions which can overcome this gap between belief and behaviour. It will be delivered in partnership with the consortium of academics from the universities of Exeter, Liverpool, Northampton and Kingston, London. It will be based upon in-depth, ethnographic research with households in Great Britain and France over a ten-month period.

Stewart Barr said: “Our approach will be to work intensively with households to understand how recycling and waste behaviours have developed and how the dynamics within family units influence such everyday practices. In this way, we will work alongside households to co-create strategies to embed sustainable recycling patterns in the future. This project will provide valuable knowledge for a wide range of businesses seeking to influence environmental behaviours, as well as government and NGOs.”

“Our goal to lead our industry in sustainable packaging and recycling means we must support and promote improvements throughout our value chain,” said John F Brock, Chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises. “These initiatives aim to address two of our biggest challenges in this area – improving recycling rates by influencing consumer behaviour at home and meeting the increasing demand for recycled PET through investments in strategic infrastructure projects.”

The announcement was made at a prestigious Collaboration Forum held in central London for the sustainability community, industry partners, customers and suppliers. A webcast of the Collaboration Forum can be viewed on the CCE website.

Date: 21 October 2012

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