This year’s Viridor Recycling Index poll, published today (22 September), found that nearly two thirds of consumers believe that producers should bear the cost of recycling waste materials.
The poll of 8,000 consumers was carried out by researcher YouGov for Viridor. It showed that 67% of respondents believe that taxpayers currently carry the cost of recycling, with 64% saying that producers and manufacturers should take responsibility. Viridor said that this is up from 56% last year.
The index also found that 55% of those surveyed thought that retailers should be accountable for recycling the waste, with 41% calling on the government to contribute to recycling costs.
Viridor added that 51% of respondents thought that the increase in single use products due to Covid-19 has made it “more important” to find recycling solutions for materials, with just 13% agreeing that recycling is of secondary importance amid the pandemic.
The poll also shows that 85% of people would still buy their regular products if the packaging changed to reflect different coloured/recycled plastic, or a different material, however 42% would not pay more for products made from recycled material.
This is the fifth Viridor Recycling Index, which is a yearly report that tracks public attitudes towards recycling. EPR (extended producer responsibility) was a new topic this year as was recycled content, with more than half of respondents saying that they wanted to see 100% of plastic packaging made from recycled material by 2030.
Viridor said that the Index shows the UK is “still not being clear in its message to consumers” with a growing number finding it difficult to understand what is recyclable. 83% said that they would be motivated to recycle more if the system was “easier and simpler to use”.
The company added that consumers want to see a “greater standardising of recycling instructions on packaging”. A further challenge stated by Viridor was “on the go recycling”, as the poll recorded “confusion” from residents when they were asked how easy it was to recycle when they were not at home.
In August Defra reaffirmed that it will be introducing extended producer responsibility (EPR) for packaging by 2023, subject to consultation. (see letsrecycle story)
The department also confirmed that it will be holding formal second stage consultations on the legislation in early 2021.
‘A key component’
Viridor CEO Phil Piddington said: “Viridor has been listening to consumer attitudes to recycling for five years and applying the lessons we’ve learnt to the way we run our business. The concept of
extended producer responsibility (EPR), or producer pays, has been a key component of our input to government on the future of recycling.
“Viridor also supports the Treasury’s Plastic Tax, proposed for 2022, which would tax all plastic packaging with less than 30% recycled content. This, along with extended producer responsibility, more standardised local government collections and clearer labelling which helps consumers to do the right thing and recycle more, reflects our response to five years of commissioning the Viridor Recycling Index. These messages have come out loud and clear from the UK public.
“Like the public we think that the producers should bear the cost of recycling because it’s important to take responsibility for everything we produce but also because this will be a powerful motivating factor influencing product design.”