Contamination refers to any unwanted materials that householders include in boxes, sacks or bins for recycling. Such unwanted materials may include non-recyclable materials such as nappies; non-targeted materials such as plastic packaging in a plastic bottles only collection; and targeted materials contaminated with unwanted items, such as food-contaminated cardboard. Around half of the population put out unwanted materials for collection which can negatively affect the recycling process. A key cause of contamination is confusion about what can and cannot be included in recycling containers.


We have experience of conducting research with residents to inform effective campaigns to reduce contamination, such as our work with the London Borough of Newham. Building on our strong track record of delivering successful door-to-door engagement (doorstepping) campaigns to increase the quantity of recycling, we are now applying this expertise to campaigns to address recycling contamination, such as our work with Woking Borough Council which significantly reduced contamination through targeted doorstepping in problem areas.