Recycling rates for municipal waste, packaging waste, electrical and electronic equipment are slowly increasing in most Western countries, indicating some progress towards using more waste as a resource and achieving a circular economy. However, while people are committed to separate waste at home, there is a lot to do to improve recycling on-the-go.

A survey performed in 14 European countries by the LUCID polling agency with Every Can Counts revealed that most respondents (93%) would like to see more recycling bins on the streets, in public spaces, parks, beaches, or on trails. That number inches up to 94% when people were asked about large events such as festivals or sporting events.

The lack of adequate infrastructure comes out as a chief obstacle to higher recycling on-the-go rates. 83% of respondents said they always or often put their drinks packaging in the recycling bin when at home, but that number plummets to 54% in the workplace, and only 49% do so when out and about, while 48% recycle in outdoor locations like parks and beaches.

“Most respondents are ready to do more when it comes to sorting and recycling the drink cans they consume out of home, but proper recycling and collection solutions are often too scarce,” explained Every Can Counts Europe Director, David Van Heuverswyn.

On-the-go waste is carefully monitored in the UK, where about eight billion drinks containers fail to get recycled every year and are either landfilled, incinerated, or littered. A few weeks ago, Telford and Wrekin municipalities in Shropshire joined #InTheLoop, the UK’s biggest collaborative approach to boost recycling on-the-go.

First trialed in Leeds in 2018, it was piloted in Swansea and Edinburgh in 2019. Across the three projects, over 1 million plastic and glass bottles and cans were collected and recycled. In Telford and Wrekin, 25 new waste bins will be positioned strategically across the town park to encourage visitors to recycle on-the-go, providing specific guidance for correct separation.

Telford and Wrekin Council will be monitoring the impact and effectiveness of the new bins. If successful, the plan is to extend the rollout across the borough, starting with Oakengates and Newport with others to follow, making it easier for residents to recycle on-the-go in other district parks and high streets.

Does your city have recycling bins on the streets and in public spaces? Any experience or best practice of recycling on-the-go that you want to share? Contact our Smart Waste experts for further insights and ideas!