Citizenship Research

Southampton Citizen Science Project

Project information

Recycling is a problem in Southampton and we want to try and solve it!

Southampton City Council and the University of Southampton are bringing together residents and academics to help make more informed decisions about recycling in the Southampton area. We want residents to be involved in shaping our understanding of recycling behaviours and we will achieve this through citizen science.
In a nutshell citizen science is a piece of research that is undertaken by members of the public with support from professionals or academics.
Citizen science has been used numerous times in the natural world such as in butterfly counts, but rarely is used in the social sciences. Southampton City Council, Southampton University and the local people of Southampton are pioneering a citizen social science project which will hopefully provide some answers to the many questions we have about why recycling rates are so low. By helping to design, collect and analyse different areas of the project, hopefully access to new forms of data can be found. This data, provided and collected by residents, can then be used to make informed, balanced and strong evidence-based decisions.

People's Panel Logo

People’s Panel Logo

Southampton has one of the lowest rates of household waste recycling in the UK (currently ranked 316 out of 326 local authorities), recycling just 28% of waste (compared to upwards of 65% in some places). Recycling more could save the city a lot of money and reduce impacts to the environment. This research project on recycling aims to gather insights into the behaviours of residents to help the council encourage more recycling in the city. Good work can be undone by misinformation, lack of knowledge and confusion. We are taking the lead on involving local people to try and come up with data that can provide a solution to those problems.
The aim of this citizen science project was to research three key focus questions.
1) What explains awareness of and knowledge about recycling in Southampton?
2) What explains recycling behaviours and how best can we change them?
3) How does Southampton compare with other cities and what can we learn from practices elsewhere?
There are numerous opportunities to get involved in the project. It doesn’t matter if you were involved from the beginning or not you can still have a hand in shaping Southampton’s future. If it sounds like something you might be interested in please email and we can get you up to speed and find out what part of the project you want to be involved in. If you are interested in finding out more about the People’s Panel as a whole please follow the link and sign up if it sounds like something you would like be involved in.
Link to People’s Panel

Organisations involved

Working Together

The nature of Citizen Science means that a large number of organisations must cooperate and aid each other to bring about a successful outcome. The Southampton Citizen Science Project is no different, with collaborations across the University, the City and beyond. Here you can see some of the main partners in our project, and a little more about their role.

Web Science Insititue


The University of Southampton Web Science Institute are engaged in the project to help citizens contribute via electronic means. Professor Les Carr is working on the project to help with this, and will remain actively engaged in the project for the duration.


Southampton City Council

Southampton City Council have been integral in all areas and levels of the Citizen Science project, from its inception to driving the project onwards. They provide support, funds and a vital communication links between the various stakeholders. Through their work with People’s Panel they have been able to advertise and recruit the member that are vital to the project. Alongside this they are also, with the help of the citizen scientists themselves, are producing the materials and analysing much of the data. Once the results for the research have been finalised and a report has been written this will then be given to decision makers to help inform any strategies in the future.



University of Southampton Digital Literacy Organisation Digichamps have been providing technical support to the project. They have also been involved in facilitating some of the sessions and presenting research.


University Of Southampton

The University of Southampton are an integral part of the Citizen Science project. By drawing on their expertise the Politics department are leading the way in both research and data collection. With the University of Southampton driving forwards these areas of the project, it is hoped that new avenues of research and data can be collected to help inform Southampton City Council. Dr Matt Ryan is using his extensive knowledge of Governance and Public Policy to help shape the project, the research methodologies and finally the report that will be written once the data has been collected and analysed.


University of Manchester

The University of Manchester are helping with the engagement of citizens, as they have trialled a similar programme in their local area. The help of Liz Richardson has been incredibly useful in the early stages of the project, and her continued support is much appreciated.

Citizen’s Research Packs

When the citizen’s began their research project, we provided a number of guideline documents to help them. These documents are available below.

If you need anymore documentation please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Get in touch with us

Find us

If you wish to get in touch with us, and have no other way of doing so, please use the details on this page. However, if you currently have a communication channel with the project, please stick to this to avoid confusion. Many thanks for your understanding.

Contact us