A survey on public attitudes to recycling suggests low levels of awareness and education, with four in five consumers struggling to understand recycling labels on products while two-thirds are frustrated by lack of harmonisation in collections.
Viridor’s 2017 edition of its UK Recycling Index has been launched to coincide with the start of National Recycle Week 2017. The survey of 1,500 people covered topics ranging from packaging and collections to new initiatives and Government targets.
Paul Brown, managing director of recycling at Viridor, said: “The public are confused about what and how to recycle, with the range of collection approaches in the UK and the stretching of local authority collection periods leading to continued contamination of potentially good material for recycling.
“The 2017 index also shows a clear need for better education, with 69% of people feeling frustrated about not having enough education materials on recycling. The success of the recycling process begins with the public and it is heartening that people really do want to do the right thing, but they need a clear and concise message from their local authorities if we are to collectively improve recycling performance and reach national targets.”
Packaging and education
- Fewer than one in five (16%) of people feel recycling labelling on product packaging is very easy to understand.
- Half (49%) find it easy to tell whether black plastic food trays or disposable coffee cups are easy to recycle.
- Four in ten (43%) are now ‘very confident’ they put different waste in the right bins, down 6% from 2016.
Government policy and manufacturers
- Seven in 10 believe that taxpayers are being held accountable for the cost of recycling products but think the product manufacturers and businesses selling products should be paying this cost.
- 25% believe that all waste that can be recycled is recycled.
- Seven in 10 (69%) would be willing to pay for a deposit return scheme, broken down into individual products: glass bottles (49%), plastic bottles (44%) and batteries (44%).
- Nine in 10 (89%) would consider using refillable packaging.
- One-third (35%) currently do, with the main barriers being a lack of awareness and availability.
- 46% of those who currently do not use refillable packaging say it is because not all retailers offer the service.
Harmonisation and targets
- Two-thirds (66%) of the UK public were frustrated that different councils recycle items in different ways.
- 71% agree that a consistent recycling collection system around the UK would increase recycling rates, while 82% agree that recycling targets should be standardised across England, Scotland and Wales.
- 45% think England’s ambition to recycle 50% of its waste by 2020 is not ambitious enough while 13% that feel the EU’s target of 70% by 2020 is inadequate.