Recycle for the Future

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Recycling is an area in which everyone has a role to play and for many consumers, is arguably one of the easier ways to protect the environment. 

While three-quarters of people in Great Britain and France say they always recycle plastic bottles at home, recycling rates don’t reflect this. We wanted to understand and investigate the gap between intentions and reality by going beyond asking people about their behaviour, and actually observing what we do in real life. With the University of Exeter, we conducted a pioneering six-month study to observe recycling behaviors in 20 households in Great Britain and France.

Using the findings from this study, we joined forces with experts from industry, NGOs and recycling organisations to launch a challenge with, a global open innovation platform, and hopefully find ideas that will help improve recycling rates at-home. 

Why recycling for the future matters

Every year CCE produces 12 billion bottles and cans. We are already working on using less and less packaging, and making our existing packaging more sustainable. Realizing the impact that we can have on the environment, we have made a commitment to ‘recycle more packaging than we use’.  

As part of this we have invested €12.5 million in two recycling joint ventures in Great Britain and France,  to significantly increase the amount of PET plastic which can be reprocessed locally, and increase the availability and use of recycled PET.  

This vision is helping us to ensure that more bottles are returned, avoiding landfill and helping to increase the proportion of recycled materials in its bottles. We want to continue to increase the proportion of rPET (recycled polyethylene terephthalate) used in bottles, but to do this we need more PET to be returned.

The blackhole between intentions and reality

Three-quarters of British and French consumers (76% and 75%, respectively) claim to always recycle plastic bottles at home. However, only around half of all plastic bottles sold are currently collected for recycling in Great Britain and France - below the European average.

At CCE we wanted to understand the reasons behind this disconnect between intentions and actions, and then seek out innovations that can help improve at-home recycling rates.

Unpacking at-home recycling habits

Last year we conducted a pioneering study with the University of Exeter – ‘Unpacking the Household’ – which went into people’s homes to enable us to better understand how household dynamics influence recycling behaviours.  

The study observed ten British and ten French households over a six month period.  The households chosen covered a broad range of demographics, to see a varied range of at-home dynamics. For us to really get under the skin of what happens in the home, we used qualitative data collection techniques, including repeat interviews, observations and diaries. 

‘Unpacking the Household’ – Study findings

  • Need to break  existing recycling habits to make  new, better ones
  • Aesthetics and physical space are key
  • Better information about what happens to waste is required
  • Common misconceptions continue to exist about what really happens to recycling after collection
  • Digital communication and social media can encourage new recycling habits

‘Unpacking the Household’ – Study Recommendations

  • Intervene at moments when households are most open to change
  • Harness the power of ‘community’ via digital communication
  • Educate on ‘what things become’ to demystify and demonstrate the value of recycling.
  • Research how to encourage disengaged teenagers to re-engage in recycling
  • Design at-home solutions that integrate into household spaces and turn recycling into an everyday action


To learn more about the study, you can download the full report, at the bottom of the page.

Collaboration for Innovation

FMCG businesses such as our own can, and should, leverage experience and expertise to help educate and inspire households to recycle more often. However at CCE, we know we don’t have all the answers, and that collaboration is vital for good environmental practice.  So we’ve partnered with - an open innovation platform - with nearly 60,000 members in around 130 countries for an exciting 11-week challenge.  The challenge is inviting people to contribute creative ideas and insights – no matter how big or small – from across the globe on ‘how to establish better recycling habits at-home’.

Expert Advisors

Throughout the process there will be an esteemed panel of expert advisors, alongside OpenIDEO’s experienced community managers, from companies such as P&G, WWF, Fost Plus, WRAP and Casino Group, who will provide advice, and  ultimately decide the ideas  to potentially be taken forward. 

How to get involved

This challenge cannot work without collaboration, and that’s where we are hoping you will help by contributing your experiences and ideas.  To stay updated on the challenge, read other people’s ideas and contributions, and to add your own, visit the community and follow the challenge buzz on twitter #recyclechallenge.

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