August 11

Analysis: 3 Ways to Improve Recycling Behaviour and Boost the Circular Economy

By Shannon Bouton, Alina Gabdrakhmanova, Cynthia Shih, Jeremy Douglas

Despite decades of promoting recycling, global rates are stuck at a disappointing 16%. Improved design, technologies and access for reuse and recyclability are critical to closing the gap. But better recycling behaviours are just as important for making the shift to a truly circular economy.

Delterra, a global NGO, understands the importance of tackling behaviour to drive change across the circular economy as a whole. Its project communities in Indonesia and Argentina have driven up recycling participation rates from less than 5% to over 50% in some cases in just a matter of months. To date, across their global programmes, they have achieved a recyclables recovery rate as high as 50%.

This was achieved by incorporating three key factors: considering behaviour change programmes as an investment with an expected return (and showing decision-makers the quantifiable benefits of boosting recycling behaviour); understanding how infrastructure shapes behaviour and leveraging proven approaches – while still leaving room to experiment and customize programmes to meet specific communities’ needs.

Photo courtesy of USAID FAB Photo Contest 2010.

Source: World Economic Forum (link opens in a new window)

circular economy, recycling