Viridor research points to recycling ‘confusion’

Research carried out on behalf of waste management company Viridor shows that the public are still confused when it comes to recycling, and many are in favour of a ‘standardised’ system.

Viridor today (25 September) launches the 2017 edition of its UK Recycling Index which the company said will shed new light on the UK’s attitudes to recycling, against the backdrop of declining recycling rates.

Viridor has launched the 2017 edition of its UK Recycling Index which the company said will shed new light on the UK’s attitudes to recycling

According to Viridor, the Index highlights “public frustration in product labelling and recycling collection systems, as well as a lack of confidence in those perceived to be responsible for recycling.”

“It also illustrates growing concern about the negative consequences should recycling levels continue to fall,” the company said.

‘Confusion’

According to Viridor, the research shows that there is ‘confusion’ at a product level, with very few consumers finding recycling labelling on product packaging easy to understand.

Of those surveyed, only half (49%) find it easy to tell whether black plastic food trays or disposable coffee cups are easy to recycle.

Viridor said two thirds (66%) of the UK public are also frustrated that different councils recycle items in different ways. And, the company also found that only four in ten (43%) are now very confident that they put different waste in the right bins – a 6% fall since 2016.

“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.


Paul Brown
Viridor

Paul Brown, managing director of recycling and integrated assets 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.

“A more standardised approach to waste collection, across local authority boundaries, would deliver economies of scale, encourage more social infrastructure in the right places and help boost economic growth. “The 2017 Recycling Index also shows a clear need for better education, with seven in ten (69%) people feeling frustrated about not having enough education materials on recycling.”

Consistency

According to Viridor, the public wants “more nationwide consistency and ambition to tackle the issue.” The company said 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.

As well as confusion over how to recycle materials, Viridor reports that there is a growing lack of trust in those perceived to be responsible for recycling.

The survey found that seven in ten believe tax payers are being held accountable for the cost of recycling products, but think the product manufacturers and businesses selling products should be paying this cost.

The research also found that consumers are open to initiatives that could lead to an increase in recycling levels. Viridor reports that 69% would be willing to pay for a deposit return scheme.

Above: 68% of Londoners agreed that if there was more consistency, it would increase UK recycling rates.

And, Viridor said that 45% think England’s ambition to recycle 50% of its waste by 2020 is not ambitious enough.

The UK Recycling Index was launched by Viridor in 2016 to track changes in recycling over time and identify new trends impacting consumer behaviour. This second edition of the Index is based on a survey of 1,500 people conducted across the UK in August and September 2017 and provides an overview of public attitudes to recycling, including key regional differences.

The release of the Index findings coincide with the start of National Recycle Week 2017 (25 Sep – 7 Oct), which aims to encourage household recycling.

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