Waste & Recycling Terminology Testing Qualitative Research


The Project

Enventure Research was appointed by Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority (GMWDA) to undertake qualitative research to gauge residents’ knowledge, understanding and interpretation of different waste and recycling terminology. GMWDA is England’s largest waste disposal authority, dealing with over 1.1 million tonnes of waste collected from over 1 million households for the nine Greater Manchester local authorities. By 2018, GMWDA aims to be recycling well over 50% of the waste it collects, diverting at least 85% of waste from landfill.


Research Methods

GMWDA works closely with all authorities and various partners in Greater Manchester and sees residents playing an important role in achieving high recycling levels. It therefore seeks to encourage residents to waste less and recycle correctly through various communications campaigns using the Recycle for Greater Manchester branding. GMWDA has been concerned however that these campaigns use a wide variety of waste and recycling terminology which may not be consistent or easily understood by residents. It therefore wished to undertake insight research to gauge residents’ knowledge, understanding and interpretation of the terminology and icons used in such campaigns.


With the aforementioned in mind, Enventure Research conducted two focus groups with a representative selection of Greater Manchester residents in Manchester city centre. The groups were both held on Monday 10 July 2017 and lasted for approximately one hour. Participants to the groups were recruited on street to include at least one resident from each local authority area. Participants included a range of gender, age and ethnicities.


The focus groups were facilitated by Enventure Research’s experienced moderators, who followed a specifically designed discussion guide to allow all relevant topics to be covered. The discussion guide was designed in consultation with GMWDA and explored waste and recycling terminology, food waste receptacles, terminology of general household items and the ‘good to know’ messages designed by GMWDA.


At the end of each focus group, participants were asked to complete a survey to explore which recycling segment profile they met. The segment profiles were developed following a nationwide study by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and comprise six different ‘types’. These include ‘what is in it for me?’, ‘Nice and Neighbourly’, ‘Conscientious Community’, ‘Rule-Abiders’, ‘Global Ideals’ and ‘Indifferent’.




With the permission of the participants, the focus groups were recorded so that the moderators did not have to take notes throughout the session. These recordings were used only to make notes and were deleted after being processed. Analysis of these notes resulted in a number of key themes emerging from the discussions, which were outlined in a detailed research report. Anonymised verbatim comments (indicating the respondent’s gender and segment profile only) were used to highlight these themes and bring the report to life.

  • Ensure the revised Strategy reflects residents’ views and aspirations
  • Improve the quality of policy and decision making by drawing on knowledge from local people
  • Raise awareness and understanding of sustainable waste management and wider related environmental, economic and social issues



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