The Importance of Methodology in Recycling Research: Key Insights and Best Practices

May 22, 2024

Introduction: Recycling research is vital for making data-informed decisions about packaging and sustainability. Different methodologies and measurements in recycling research can lead to varying conclusions, making it essential to understand the best practices in this field. This blog post will summarize key insights from the article “Methodology Matters” by Alyssa Harben and Lucy Pierce, published in the April 2022 issue of Resource Recycling.

Summary of Key Points:

1 . Weight vs. Volume:

  • There is considerable debate over whether weight or volume is the best way to measure recycling initiatives. Weight can skew data due to heavier materials like glass, while volume can favor less compact-able materials.

2. Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs):

  • LCAs are controversial but remain one of the best methods to compare the environmental impacts of different products and processes. The scope and boundaries of an LCA can significantly affect the results.

3. Evaluating Research:

  • It’s crucial to evaluate the match between researchers and their questions, watch for rhetorical manipulation, examine the distance between data and claims, and ensure comparisons are fair and appropriate.

4. Conducting Research:

  • Best practices include choosing a well-rounded research team, avoiding rhetorical manipulation, using reproducible methods, and considering established methodologies before creating new ones.

Key Takeaways for Recycling Programs:

1. Methodological Rigor:

  • Ensuring rigorous methodology in recycling research helps make more accurate and reliable decisions, which can improve the effectiveness of recycling programs.

2. Transparency and Reproducibility:

  • Transparency in research methods and reproducibility of results are crucial for building trust and validating findings in the recycling industry.

3. Continuous Reassessment:

  • The recycling industry is dynamic, requiring continuous reassessment and adaptation of methodologies to keep up with changing trends and challenges.


Understanding and applying the best practices in recycling research methodology is essential for making informed decisions that promote sustainability. For more detailed insights, read the full article “Methodology Matters” by Alyssa Harben and Lucy Pierce in Resource Recycling.

Call to Action:

“Stay informed and make data-driven decisions for your recycling programs. For expert assistance in developing and implementing effective recycling strategies, contact Circular Motion Recycling today.”