Recycling information unclear for vast majority of shoppers

14th February 2020

Web recycling istock 664980412 1

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  • Waste ,
  • Resources ,
  • Recycling ,
  • Society


Robert Watkins

Despite progress in recent years, the vast majority of shoppers are still confused by recycling labelling on their products, a YouGov survey of more than 2,000 UK adults has uncovered.

The findings show that just 8% of adults strongly believe that recycling labelling is clear, while only 12% actually trust the information.

The research also uncovered a huge disparity between recycling habits at home, in the office, and outside, potentially leading to a vast amount of materials going to waste.

It found that the public is almost 50% more likely to always recycle at home than when out and about, and nearly twice as likely to do so at home compared to when in the office.

Richard Kirkman, chief technology and innovation officer at Veolia UK & Ireland, said the system needs standardisation, and called for “binary labelling“ which clearly states what can and can't be recycled.

“This paired with signage and the consistency in guidelines to accommodate all locations is fundamental to help people separate their products correctly,“ he continued.

“These fundamental changes will shake up the system, making the move towards a circular economy and resuscitating the environment.“

Despite confusion around labelling, 66% of the survey respondents said it has become easier to recycle in the last five years.

It was also found that older adults are more likely to always recycle than young people, whether it be at home, at work or while out and about.

Encouragingly, a whopping 91% of respondents agreed that recycling is “worth it“ in terms of time and energy output.

Jane Bevis, chair of the On-Pack Recycling Label (OPRL) not-for-profit, said that the time has come for clear “recycle of don't recycle“ messaging on labelling.

Consumers tell us that clear, consistent advice is essential – they want to do the right thing and recycling labels on packaging to give practical information they can trust.

It's time for a single mandatory labelling system that consumers know they can rely on.

Image credit: ©iStock


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