- Confused Consumers: While global consumers recognise the importance of recycling (see Key Stats), the majority – 80% in the UK and 63% in the US (Circular, 2022, and The Recycling Partnership, 2023) – are unclear about how to recycle effectively. As a result, 42% of Brits who are unsure will take a guess on which bin to use, and 22% skip recycling altogether (Reuters, 2023).
- Becoming Recycling-Literate: To help consumers understand recycling labels, US-based The Recycling Partnership is launching a QR code label, dubbed Recycle Check, in 2023. It aims to clear up confusion by informing consumers if packaging can be recycled, where the product can be recycled (in their neighbourhood) and which bin to put it in.
Non-profit The Recycling Dictionary, founded by 16-year-old American Jiin Yun, has developed an app that provides guidance on how to recycle a variety of products, such as household recycling and e-waste. Additionally, the initiative educates primary schoolers about smart recycling practices and has launched a children’s book to teach kids about recycling.
- In the Hands of Experts: Tanzanian waste management organisation Nipe Fagio recycles waste in several cities, taking zero waste into its own hands.Plastic pollution is a challenge in the country, as 76% of waste retrieved from its coast and environment is plastic (Gaia, 2023). Nipe Fagio’s collectors visit households once a week to pick up four different varieties of waste. In collection centres, materials are sorted into items for resale, organic waste that can be turned into compost and scraps that can be upcycled as chicken feed. Leaving recycling in the hands of professionals foregoes the mistakes made by consumers, leading to a more effective recycling process.
Others are approaching recycling on an industrial level – like London-based start-up FibreLab, which recycles textile waste from local companies, transforming it into paper (see The Brief).
Read Meet the Eco-Pragmatists for more.