Kent understanding plastics ‘live lab’

Pledge2Recycle Plastics worked with all 13 Kent Councils throughout 2021 and 2022 to deliver plastics recycling communications across Kent looking at the research start point ‘if kerbside plastics recycling is based on the same target/non-target materials, what other factors influence recycling rates.’  Part-funded by the Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Challenge, the project lead by RECOUP and Pledge2Recycle Plastics partnered with industry partners Veolia, Plastics Europe, the British Plastics Federation, Ecosurety, Kent Resource Partnership and PPS Recovery Systems for delivery. The project was also supported in kind by Ocado, Sainsbury’s and OPRL. 

The project focussed on utilising different types of communication methods to influence recycling rates including leaflet delivery, direct community engagement (roadshows, shopper engagement, school visits etc.) and indirect communications (social media, articles in local magazines, dedicated website etc.).

The project in numbers:

  • 678,000 recycling information leaflets delivered to residents
  • 1900 parish councillors contacted
  • 170,000 community magazine copies distributed
  • 17,500 school children across 700 schools engaged with
  • 3000+ responses to citizen insights questionnaires
  • 3000+ shoppers engaged with at 16 high street locations
  • 2500 visits to a dedicated web page for Kent plastic recycling information

The project found that Kent citizens understanding of plastics packaging recycling improved overtime and the responses clearly demonstrated an up-shift from July 2021 with those post communications commencement.

As an output of the project a ‘Best practice guide for UK plastics recycling Communications’ guide was been produced as an aid to those communicating plastics recycling to individuals and communities who are seeking to drive up the quantity and qualities of collected recyclable items.  

Decade long partnership results in recycling success in Buxton

A 10-year partnership between Nestlé Waters UK, plastics recycling charity RECOUP, High Peak Borough Council and Alliance Environmental Services (AES), lead to recycling success in Buxton.

The long-term investment and collaboration delivered many initiatives including school education, roadshows, litter picking and eye-catching bins on the streets of the town.

The work was supported by resources developed and delivered to schools through the R-Generation initiative, educating young people about plastics and recycling. And in 2019 the original high street recycling bins were given a much-needed face-lift to make it easy to distinguish between ‘Recycling’ and ‘General Waste’.  The bright blue recycling bins now provide a splash of colour on Buxton High Street. 

RECOUP carried out an audit of the recycling collected over one weekend to assess the effectiveness of the scheme and found that 90% of the material was recyclable with a split of 79% either plastic bottles or cans, 11% ‘other’ recyclables and only 10% non-recyclable material was put into the bin.

The outcome of the on-street bins revamp supports conclusions also made by Hubbub in their Leeds By Example work that ‘simply changing the messaging and colour of the existing bin has a significant impact on the amount of recycling collected.’

County Durham Recycles

This initiative aims to encourage County Durham residents to embrace recycling and elevate the quality of plastics packaging recycled in the region through household collections.

Videos have been developed to demonstrate the journey of plastics packaging and its recycling processes within the region.  By educating residents on the recycling process, the initiative seeks to enhance awareness about the significance of recycling instructions and the positive impact individuals can have on the environment through sustained recycling behaviours.

The team have attended a variety of events as part of the project including engagements with local leaders, schools, as well as high profile community events. The project aims to provide information on what plastics are recycled and how on a regional level.  Citizen confusion is alleviated through simple, concise, and accurate communications with a focus on the recycling questions most frequently asked to the Pledge2Recycle Plastics.  

A new website was created by Pledge2Recycle Plastics for the project ( which aligns with the Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle waste hierarchy model, emphasising the importance of reducing waste generation, reusing materials where possible, and recycling plastics to promote a circular economy. Through their efforts, County Durham residents will be empowered to make informed choices that contribute to a cleaner and more sustainable environment.