< Research Reports

Lifting the Lid

In 2019, we worked with SUEZ to update our first study on student recycling in higher education, completed in 2013.  
Line of different coloured recycling bins

We found that the 2019 students are more active recyclers than their predecessors of 2013. Both the number of students recycling regularly, and the commitment shown by students towards recycling have increased.

  • 85% of respondents are committed recyclers, and just 6% admit to not recycling (down from 11% in 2013).
  • 69% of respondents say they still recycle when it requires extra effort (up from 60%).
  • A quarter (25%) only recycle when it’s convenient.

The research found the type of student accommodation to be a factor in recycling behaviour, with students living in university-owned halls of residence and privately-rented houses more likely to make additional efforts to recycle. Encouragingly, although students living in privately-owned halls of residence showed less commitment to recycling, they make up almost a third of respondents considering making a positive change to their behaviour, giving hope for the future.

For institutions looking to improve their performance, the convenience and scope of recycling facilities and services should be high up the list for review, with the research showing a correlation between the convenience of facilities available and commitment to recycling. According to 40-50% of respondents, providing more bins, in more convenient locations, and collecting a wider range of materials are the best ways to boost recycling.

With 50% of respondents unable to recall receiving information about recycling on campus, rising to 60% at their term-time accommodation, clear information about recycling services and the benefits of recycling is needed to support and motivate students to recycle.


Lifting the Lid Higher - 2019Lifting the Lid - 2013