The impact of COVID-19 on residents’ waste and recycling behaviours

During lockdown there have been several surveys carried out about the impact of COVID-19 on household waste and recycling streams, but the results have come from large waste management companies and local authority data, so we wanted to gather a picture for ourselves.

M·E·L Research and M·E·L Waste Insights therefore asked 1,000 residents about how lockdown  impacted them on the amount and types of waste and recycling they produced during the period of April, May and June 2020, compared to what they usually produce at home before lockdown.

The survey was representative of the UK by region, age and gender and asked questions on overall waste and recycling streams as well individual materials, and highlighted some very interesting results:

• 30% of residents claimed that their general waste increased, and 40% say their recycling waste increased during lockdown
• Due to more youngsters being at home and not at school, the amount of plastic bottles and food waste rose by 38%
• Thanks to an upsurge in the undertaking of DIY projects, residents indicated that their DIY waste increased by at least 40%
• With charity shops and re-use avenues temporarily unavailable, ‘clear-outs’ contributed to a huge increase in textile waste
• Cardboard waste increased due to a rise in online purchasing
• A massive 89% of residents said their garden waste increased greatly as they finally had the time to give the garden a good tidy!

The above are just some of the reasons behind the increase in volume and weight of waste collected kerbside in the UK, and we have created the following infographic to give you a break-down of the results:

If you wish to discuss a similar project with M·E·L Waste Insights, please give our team a call today on 0121 333 1961 or email