11 February 2020 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
Only 8 per cent of Brits strongly believe that recycling labelling on products is clear and that only 12 per cent of them trust this information on products, according to research by YouGov commissioned by waste management company Veolia.
YouGov surveyed 2022 adults in December 2019 and concluded that public confusion and distrust of recycling labelling leads to lower rates of recycling.
The study also found that 66 per cent of people have said it has become easier to recycle in the last five years and the older you are, the more likely you are to always recycle either at home, at work or while out and about. A huge 91 per cent of people agreed that recycling is indeed 'worth it', in terms of time and energy output.
Recycling needs to be "a constant environmental commitment", states the research, but YouGov found that nearly half of the public find information on this unclear. A huge disparity between habits when at home, in the office and while out and about was uncovered by this research. In fact, the public are nearly 50 per cent more likely to always recycle at home compared with when out and almost twice as likely to always recycle at home than at work - leaving a huge amount of materials going to waste.
Richard Kirkman, chief technology and innovation officer of UK and Ireland at Veolia, says: "How can we expect people to recycle if they don't trust the information presented to them? The nation is ready: people are onboard with recycling. To reach our targets, the UK needs standardisation in the initial stage of the chain. There is an answer: binary labeling, which clearly states if it can or 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. These fundamental changes will shake up the system, making the move towards a circular economy and resuscitating the environment."
Jane Bevis, chair of OPRL (On Pack Recycling Label) says: "Consumers tell us that clear, consistent advice is essential - they want to do the right thing and they want recycling labels on packaging to give practical information they can trust. That's why we've redesigned our labels to give a simple 'recycle' or 'don't recycle' message, summarising the evidence on what councils collect, what MRFs can sort, what gets reprocessed and what gets turned into new packaging or products. It's time for a single mandatory labelling system that consumers know they can rely on."
The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all British adults (aged 18 and over).