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Benefits of metal recycling 'need to be explained to younger people'

Metal recycling may be going out of fashion with younger people as they are less aware of the environmental benefits and may have a negative view of scrap metal merchants.

Despite Millennials (25-34 year-olds) and ‘Gen-Z’ (19-24 year-olds) being described as the most eco-conscious generations, metal recycling may be passing them by, according to a YouGov survey commissioned by EMR.

The survey found these groups were more inventive with what they do with metal waste compared with those aged 35 and over. More would upcycle (16% against 10%) or sell it on to others (30% against 20%).

However, these two groups were also less likely to take metal waste to their local recycling centre (53% against 69%) or put it in the council provided bin (25% against 29%) than their older counterparts.

Worryingly, some negative views of metal recycling were uncovered by the survey. Some 6% of Gen-Z described metal recycling yards as ‘environmentally harmful’, which is the highest percentage of any age group to think this. Within millennials, just 1% thought this.

EMR UK chief executive Andrew Brady said: “It is concerning that younger generations may not know the full benefits of metal recycling or have a negative perception of our industry, but we hope to change that.

“As one of the world’s leading metal and plastic recyclers, we invest heavily in developing our own state-of-the-art technologies. We are not the typical ‘scrapyard of yesteryear’ – our yards are clean, tidy, friendly and efficient.”

Previous studies have shown that Millennials are the first generation to be worse off financially than their predecessors. EMR said it was important to get the message across that, while upcycling or selling metal waste provides an opportunity to save and generate money, it is also being environmentally friendly to do so.

“The more metal we recycle, the less ore we need to take from the ground,” Brady added. “We strongly believe that one of our key roles is to promote the need for all metal waste to be recycled in an environmentally friendly way. Our priority is to encourage those who may not consider that as an option.”

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