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Consumers confused about recyclability of packaging

People in the UK are confused about recycling and regularly breach household refuse guidance, according to consumer research from international food and grocery analysts IGD.

IGDs report Packaging and Recycling Addressing Shopper Concerns interviewed 1,093 shoppers found that almost two thirds of shoppers (64%) admitted to making mistakes with their recyclable packaging. A third (34%) admitted they were unclear as to what kind of packaging materials they are able to recycle.

Many householders are confused about what is and is not collected through their local kerbside scheme. For example, 24% wrongly assumed that their local authority collected cardboard, and 23% were unaware that metal cans could be recycled in this way.

IGD chief executive Joanne Denney-Finch said: While recycling rates have increased substantially over the last ten years, our research suggests that there is a lot more that could be achieved as millions of us remain confused about recycling and disposal.

Every part of the chain is working to reduce waste and our research shows how local authorities and the food and grocery industry could coordinate more effectively to help people who are currently grappling with several sources of information.

People need clearer and more consistent guidance and improved communication about recycling collections to help them make the right choices. Otherwise, our research suggests, their frustration often leads them to dump their rubbish in the easiest way possible.

The report also found that nearly half of householders have put items in the wrong bin because they did not have time to wash or separate them, or because their bin was full. More than 30% did not always wash recyclable food packaging like tins and plastic containers and more than a quarter do not separate packaging that they know they should before disposing of it.

When asked what would help their recycling efforts the most, 25% say more consistent labelling across all products, 22% say better kerbside recycling schemes and 21% would be open to their council tax bill reflecting the amount they recycle.

The report also reveals that more than half of shoppers will shop at different supermarkets if they know one supermarket uses more recycled products than another.

IGD senior consumer analyst Tim Maton said: Sustainable packaging innovation can deliver genuine advantage for companies. Especially in a downturn, packaging that helps to reduce waste by combining environmental and functional benefits is compelling to most shoppers.


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