Public still confused about recycling, research says


WITH over a third of consumer’s admitting that recycling confuses them in general, Veolia is calling the industry to action.

New research conducted by YouGov found that only 8% of Brits strongly believe that recycling labelling on products is clear and that only 12% of them trust this recycling labelling on products.

Public confusion and distrust of recycling labelling leads to lower rates.

Richard Kirkman, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer of UK and Ireland at Veolia, commented on the findings: “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 labelling 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.”

Recycling is a constant environmental commitment, yet YouGov found that when out and about nearly half of the public find information on this unclear.

A huge disparity between habits when at home, in the office and being out was uncovered by this research.

In fact, the public are nearly 50% more likely to always recycle at home compared to when out and almost twice as likely to always recycle at home than at work.

This leaves a huge amount of materials going to waste.

Jane Bevis, Chair of OPRL (On Pack Recycling Label), added: “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 re-processed 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.”

DEFRA are tackling these labelling issues head on with their groundbreaking Resources and Waste Strategy coming to fruition throughout the course of the year.

This progressive strategy will harmonise recycling labelling, making it clearer to consumers, in turn this should increase recycling habits.

Some key results found in this research were:

  • Encouragingly, 66% of people have said it has become easier to recycle in the last five years.
  • The older you are, the more likely you are to always recycle either at home, at work or while out and about.
  • 91% of people agreed that recycling is indeed ‘worth it’, in terms of time and energy output.