Recycle Week is the UK’s largest national annual recycling campaign.

This flagship campaign for Recycle Now (a campaigning arm of WRAP) brings together consumer brands, retailers, local authorities, trade associations, waste management companies, governments and the media. Its purpose? To get more people recycling more of the right things from around the home – and to use the online Recycling Locator tool to help them do it.

This Recycle Week is RY’s fifth for Recycle Now. It’s grown in scale and impact every year, and as each annual campaign is inspired by a relevant topical issue – like the surge in climate activism in 2019, the heroic efforts of collection crews throughout the pandemic, and the UK’s hosting of COP26 in 2021 – we needed yet another fresh take for 2022.

So this year, Recycle Week seeks to clear up the public’s confusion about recycling. What can be recycled? What can’t? What do we with harder-to-recycle items? And is any of it actually working?

While objectively we all know that it’s better to recycle than to not, in recent years an anti-recycling narrative fuelled by negative media has prompted many to question whether it’s worth the effort in the first place. And of the households regularly doing it, many are “wish-cycling” items, or trying to recycle things that can’t be recycled, and that may even contaminate collections, rendering them unusable.

For an organisation dedicated to helping people recycle more of the right things, more often, one thing was clear. It was time to get real about the importance of getting recycling right.

“Let’s Get Real About Recycling” aims to win back public confidence in the recycling system by educating citizens about what can and can’t be recycled, and the implications of getting it wrong. And it reminds us that while the system may not yet be perfect, it needs all of us to work together to make it better, reduce waste and protect the environment – by getting recycling right.

At the heart of the campaign is a fascinating one-minute film made in partnership with Biffa, taking viewers on a whistlestop behind-the-scenes journey through a recycling facility. We swoop over dunes of plastics, weave through machinery, plunge down chutes – all while our guide explains the great work done at the plant, its impact, and the problems that occur when the wrong items wind up on their conveyor belts.

On social, bright, punchy creative will spark conversation between consumers and brands by asking (and answering) the public’s common questions about recycling, while a broad range of influencers, led by celebrity ambassador Mark Foster, are producing content to “get real” about recycling in their own unique ways. And OOH and radio advertising is taking the message offline and out into the real world, nationwide.

Finally, with our build partners The Syrup Room, we’re building a monumental installation at Birmingham New Street using common “missed capture” items – items that are often thrown away but which can, in fact, be recycled – to help households recycle more of them. Up close, it’s an intriguing collection of bottles, tubs, punnets and plastics. But from afar, it’s a fully-scannable QR code, directing passers-by towards the Recycling Locator – the tool they can use to learn how to recycle those items, and many others, correctly. Built from 100% sustainable recycled and recyclable materials, it will promote the message of the campaign, boost website traffic, and get people talking.

As ever it’s been an exhilarating collaboration between the WRAP and RY teams to bring Recycle Week into being, and we’re excited to share it with you. Keep an eye on our channels this week to see it come to life.

 

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