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The psychology of choosing the right bin: Webinar to share new packaging research findings

In a 19th March webinar, the University of Sheffield and Hubbub share new recycling behaviour research findings, alongside project partners Vegware and Recorra. Organised by the Compostable Coalition UK, the 2pm webinar shares successful interventions which can be applied to source segregation for many types of waste.

Getting consumers to choose the right bin is the key to a successful packaging collection. However, office environments often have high contamination rates.

Compostable packaging company Vegware and recycling collector Recorra work together in London to help shared clients set up composting schemes, providing waste consultancy and onboarding support. However, seeing variation in how clients engage with these schemes, the companies enlisted academics to help.

University of Sheffield psychologists applied behavioural science theory to develop and evaluate an intervention to encourage staff at three workplaces to choose the right bin for compostable packaging.

Working alongside the psychologists, messaging experts at Hubbub created the suite of communications tools used in the trial. Vegware created an updated engagement film and Recorra performed waste audits before and after the interventions.

Dr Nicola Buckland led the research team, concluding, “The intervention led to sustained increases in the amount of compostable packaging collected and reduced contamination in compostable bins. We look forward to sharing our recommendations with the packaging and foodservice sectors on 19th March.”

“Our observations uncovered a number of challenges for people to identify compostable packaging and dispose of it correctly,” explains Rosie Sharp of environmental charity Hubbub. “To make it easier for people to do the right thing, we designed interventions including new packaging labels and matching bin signage, to make these actions simpler, clearer and more automatic to do.”

“It has been fascinating to work alongside the psychologists and messaging experts throughout the Compostable Coalition UK’s research,” says Vegware’s Environmental and Communications Director Lucy Frankel. “They helped us develop an effective motivational video which we have added to our onboarding toolkit for client composting schemes.”

“Offices can be a challenging environment to get good recycling rates,” according to Recorra’s Strategy Director, Tom Mockridge. “We were delighted to see such a significant improvement following the interventions designed through this research.”

This research was part of the Compostable Coalition UK’s ‘Closing the Loop for Compostable Packaging’, a UKRI-funded project with many strands. These include a 14-tonne composting trial of compostable materials, microplastics test on the resulting compost, a cost-benefit analysis by Eunomia, and a review of LCA methodologies.

Follow Compostable Coalition UK on LinkedIn to see further project results as they become available.

Register here for the webinar.