Is it harder to recycle when you live in a flat?

The results of a large recycling survey undertaken for coffee producer Nespresso showed that many urban respondents wished they could recycle more. Reasons for not feeling able to recycle included lack of bins, lack of information and – significantly, living in a flat.

In fact, while 91% of people surveyed by the company living in detached homes reported finding recycling easy, nearly a third of respondents living in flats said they found the recycling process challenging.

No clear information

It’s easy to see why – many blocks of flats may not offer clear information to residents about the surrounding recycling infrastructure, or how/when recyclable materials are collected. Add to that the lack of storage space and ‘put-off factor’ of lugging heavy and perhaps unreliable recycling sacks up and down stairs and in lifts in blocks of flats, and it’s clear that there is a lot of work to do in high-density residential areas like flats, compared to others.

In the grand scheme of things, the fact that people who live in flats find it difficult to recycle may seem like a small issue given the larger recycling agenda. But when you consider that around 20% of the UK population resides in flats, and add in the fact that very small changes can make a huge impact on their ability and willingness to recycle, it starts to make sense to look for improvements in this area, particularly when you consider that the UK’s household recycling rate fell for the first time to 44% in 2015 (the last year for which we have statistics).

Fire hazards

Furthermore, the issue of a standardised, safe approach to recycling in flats takes on a far more serious character when considering the fire hazard presented by storing large quantities of recyclable materials, particularly in basement areas. The tragic Grenfell Tower fire in London should serve as a wake-up call to all local authorities to properly assess every aspect of fire risks in high-rise buildings, and this includes how and where recyclable materials are stored before collection.

So how are we helping?

  • We will actively support the trade associations that we are partnered with as well as our local council partners in their efforts to improve all aspects of the safety, efficiency and efficacy of segregating, storing and collecting recyclable materials in flats (watch this space for more information);
  • We produce multi-trip recycling bags specifically designed for use in flats. As well as being easily wiped clean, they can be quality printed – for instance to contain messaging and information on a block of flat’s recycling infrastructure and policies. Tailor-made for the convenient collection and storage of dry recyclables in flats and tenement buildings.
  • We are proud to have reported a ten-fold increase in sales of our multi-trip, polypropylene recycling bags among local authorities seeking to boost recycling rates in flats and tenement dwellings.
  • We also produce a wide-range of other waste management and recycling products, including plain and printed refuse and recycling sacks in a range of colours; Kerbie® kerbside recycling sacks; and compostable sacks.

We are keen to work together with local authorities to come up with the best recommendations for safely increasing recycling in their area. Residents should not have to work out their own systems for separating, storing and transporting recyclable waste, and those living in flats should not have to walk long distances to recycling bins to get the job done or worry about the fire hazard presented by recyclable material.