Public Attitudes Towards Recycling and Waste Management Quantitative and Qualitative Review

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Public Attitudes Towards Recycling and
Waste Management
Quantitative and Qualitative Review

Research Study Conducted for
The Strategy Unit, Cabinet Office

September 2002

Contents
Introduction

1

Summary of Findings

4

Waste issues in the public consciousness

9

Attitudes to waste management options

12

Reported behaviour

18

Motivations

21

Local recycling service provision

24

Awareness and information

26

Household waste management

30

Responsibility for waste

32

Charging for waste

34

Appendices
Topic Guide
Recruitment questionnaire
Bibliography
Statistical significance

Public Attitudes Towards Recycling and Waste Management

Introduction
This report contains the findings of research undertaken by MORI Social Research Institute on behalf of the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit.

Background and Objectives
The aim of the survey is to provide the Strategy Unit with an overview of public attitudes towards waste and recycling, to feed into the development of the forthcoming review of the UK Waste Strategy.

The research covered a wide range of areas, in particular:


Perceptions of environmental issues and ‘green’ behaviour;



Attitudes to household rubbish;



Attitudes to the options for waste management;



Patterns of behaviour in dealing with household rubbish and recycling;



Motivations to recycle;



Local recycling service provision;



Awareness and information;



Responsibility for waste;



Household management;



Charging for waste.

Survey Design
There were two phases to the research:


A review of the existing public opinion research;



Original qualitative research to investigate further emerging issues and specific issues of relevance to the Strategy Unit’s review.

The review of existing research summarises the findings of more than 20 public opinion surveys undertaken in the past ten years. It draws predominantly upon national studies but also incorporates, where appropriate, studies at the level of an individual local authority or city such as London. A full list of the studies is appended.

The original qualitative research involved four focus groups conducted between 17th - 23rd September 2002. Participants were recruited according to specific recruitment criteria using a recruitment questionnaire (included in the appendices).

1

Public Attitudes Towards Recycling and Waste Management

A key recruitment variable in each of the groups was the level of recycling undertaken by participants. It was decided as part of the research design to specifically target ‘medium’ recyclers; that is those people who either currently don’t recycle but would be willing to, or those who already recycle but do not do so regularly. In reality this is a very broad group that in all likelihood represents the majority of people in the UK. Those at either end of the spectrum (for example people who habitually recycle as much as they can, or those who are completely resistant to recycling) were excluded from this particular piece of research. The questions by which people were defined as ‘medium’ recyclers are included in the recruitment questionnaire (appended).

Recruitment was also guiding by:


Geographic factors – locations to reflect and compare different regions of the UK, and also neighbouring authorities (Kettering and Daventry) with similar population characteristics but with different recycling rates;



Socio-demographic factors – to investigate possible constraints and causes of recycling according to socio-demographic factors, including tenure, dwelling, children in household, access to a garden, and social class.

The specific details of the group compositions was as follows: Group 1: Greenwich, mix of men and women, aged 25-40, social class ABC1, mix of those living in houses/bungalows and flats/maisonettes/room, two thirds without access to a...
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