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Londoners challenged to reconsider poor recycling habits

London mayor Boris Johnson has backed a campaign to change recycling habits, as a new poll reveals 13% of Londoners overstate how much they recycle.

The ‘Just One Thing’ campaign aims to increase recycling rates across the capital and hit the mayor’s 50% target for local authority-collected waste by 2020. Only 34% of the city’s household waste, a slightly narrower measure, is currently recycled.

It is being launched by Resource London, a partnership between the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB) and WRAP, as part of its ‘Recycle for London’ initiative.

A refreshed ‘Recycle for London’ website, which was also revamped in 2013, has been launched as part of the campaign. In addition leaflets are being delivered to around 100,000 households, and publicity materials such as bin stickers and vehicle livery are being made available.

These are adapted from WRAP’s ‘Recycle Now’ templates to make them flexible and allow London authorities to localise them.

Johnson said: “This is a great way to boost the environment and save money, so let’s not waste any time and get into the habit of recycling more of our everyday items.”

To understand the capital’s recycling habits, Recycle for London and agency Opinium polled 2,002 Londoners on 14-24 September.

They found that 13% of Londoners exaggerated how much they recycle to make themselves look better, which rose to 23% for 25 to 34-year-olds. Other findings included:

  • 62% said they would feel more pride in the city if we all did more to be environmentally friendly
  • 55% were adamant that everybody should recycle
  • 76% of 18 to 34-year-olds said they wish they recycled more
  • 11% of younger people openly admit that they simply do not know what or how to recycle at home

Resource London chair, councillor Clyde Loakes, said: “Many Londoners live in flats, which means we have communal bins, we also move around the city, and each borough can have a different approach to recycling – all of which can be barriers to recycling.

“Each household is different, and so too are our 33 boroughs. But we want everyone to do ‘Just One Thing’ more in their recycling habits – it will make a real difference to London’s environment.”

WRAP director Marcus Gover said: “As a nation we are recycling more than ever, but many people are confused by what can and cannot be recycled. Having a strong, simple city-wide message in ‘Recycle for London’ will help many more Londoners recycle.”

As part of the campaign, ‘Recycle for London’ has categorised five common attitudes towards recycling in the city: Go Greener, Re-cynical, Penny Pragmatist, Everyday Helper or Evangelical. Londoners can find out which category they fall into on the campaign website.

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