Householders put mountains of recyclable waste in landfill each week because they rely too much on local government green schemes instead of taking the initiative themselves, according to new research.
The study from insurance group Zurich says on average people are recycling only half of their rubbish. Each week, Britons cast aside enough cans to stretch from London to Sydney, a wall of boxes more than three times the length of Great Wall of China, and enough plates of food for every man, woman and child in Canada to have three square meals.
Researchers found that almost a quarter of people are aware they are throwing away items that could be reused but believe travelling to a recycling centre is too much trouble. Most people are pleased with council initiatives but many people do not take up the opportunities to recycle that are available to them. Four out of ten people only recycle if items are collected from the doorstep.
Of those who throw away recyclable items, one in eight say it is too much trouble to wash out containers and one in ten believe having to sort their waste is inconvenient.
The survey also found that although many people say they support supermarkets plans to charge for plastic bags, there is significant hostility to the move with a fifth of people disagreeing with the idea.
Zurich head of local government Andrew Jepp said: This research clearly shows the green double standards of the average Briton. While people are in favour of recycling, we still throw away half of everything we use largely because we think it is too much trouble to change our habits.
A spokeswoman added: As an insurer of public services.we thought it would be useful to test public attitudes to this issue and their perceptions of councils schemes in this area.
More than 2,000 adults over 16 in the UK were interviewed for the survey.