Contamination found in 84% of household recycling.
WRAP's spring report reveals the true state of the UK's recycling efforts.

Contamination discovered in 84% of recycling...a poor effort from the UK public, or a lack of guidance?

The UK has made huge advances in the past few decades in its efforts to encourage households to recycle more. 

With many millions of tons of perfectly good material going to waste each year, most areas are now issuing homes with General Waste, Compost and Recycling bins to allow for simple separation. These are also provided with guides to help these households to select what items should and shouldn't be placed in these various bins.  

WRAP recently undertook surveys and looked at the figures from the recycling industry to gauge how effective the UK's various recycling schemes actually were, and its comprehensive Tracker Report reveals the figures. 

The findings are both interesting and concerning:

Recycling is a normalised behaviour with 90% of UK citizens regularly recycling.
• However, Over half (52%) still miss opportunities to recycle common items from home.
• Almost nine in ten (84%) dispose of an item in the recycling that is not accepted.  
• The top barrier to recycling items correctly is uncertainty. 
• Overall, UK citizens dispose of 5.6 items incorrectly on average – a significant improvement on 2021 (6.2 items).
• It was found that generation Z were the least educated around recycling, while individuals aged 55+ are the most knowledgeable.


The report reveals that far from a nation of 'recyclers' we are in fact a nation of ‘wish cyclers’, with people still not educated on what should and shouldn't be put into their recycling bins. This lack of understanding is resulting in a huge amount of contamination, which affects the quality of the recycling and its value. This contamination can even result in recycling being sent for  incineration or to landfill rather than recycled.

The most commonly found contaminants are:

•  Drinking glasses (33%)
•  Foil pouches (29%)
•  Toothpaste tubes (26%)
•  Plastic film lids (24%)
•  Tissues & Paper towels (22%)
•  Glass cookware (22%)
•  Plastic film (20%)
•  Cartons (19%)
•  Plastic toys (18%)
•  Frozen veg bags (18%)

Items are being missed:

The report also revealed that four fifths (80%) of UK households are missing out on recycling everyday items. The top ten items missed were identified as:

• Glass perfume / aftershave bottles (52%)
• Foil (27%)
• Aerosols (22%)
• Plastic trays (14%)
• Plastic cleaning bottles (11%)
• Plastic pots (10%)
• Plastic toiletries/shampoo bottles (10%)
• Cartons (9%)
• Food cans/tins (8%)
• Drink cans (6%)

Overall, a third (34%) of the households are incorrectly disposing of five or more items, and almost one fifth (17%) are disposing of 10 or more items incorrectly.

At Recyclever we are passionate about recycling and encouraging individuals to do their bit for the environment. Our machines help your customers to identify those containers that can be recycled, collecting them and dividing them into different materials. This helps you to easily pass these materials to be recycled without the need to manually separate them. See more.

 To find out more about WRAP's findings, read the Spring 2022 Recycling Tracker Report here.

For Tips on how you can identify and avoid contamination in your recycling read RecycleNow's guide here.


Recyclever Technology
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