Survey: Less Than 1 Out of 3 Young UK Consumers Recycle

A new survey commissioned by PlasticsEurope and RECOUP with over 4,100 participants from the UK, Germany and Poland, reveals that there is a lack of awareness about recycling amongst young citizens (18-24 age group).

In particular, less than 1 out of 3 young people in the UK recycle plastics (29% in the UK, 24% in Germany and 18% in Poland).

When it comes to the average population, less than 50% of consumers recycle all plastics after using them in the UK (45% in the UK, 51% in Germany, 35% in Poland). Interestingly, the main reason consumers do not recycle is that they are confused and ill-informed about what types of plastics are accepted for recycling. In Poland, respondents cited other barriers, such as less willingness (17%) or inconvenience to recycle (17%).

Consumers prefer recycling

To the question of what plastic waste management system consumers are more likely to accept, i.e. recycling, energy recovery, landfilling; 93% of UK consumers prefer recycling over landfilling and energy recovery. This result was echoed in both Germany 95% and Poland 94%.

The study also shows that there is huge resistance among consumers to send plastic waste to landfills (Germany 70%, Poland 74% and the UK 82%). Views seem to be divided about waste-to-energy solutions. Consumers in Germany (63%) and the UK (70%) are generally positive about energy recovery, while the Polish population is evenly split: 46% pro and 45% against. 

The Public wants to know more

The survey concludes that over half of consumers in each country are eager to know more about what happens to plastics once they are collected (64% in the UK, 74% in Germany and 54% in Poland).

However, consumers are also less willing to pay more for the production of resource efficient products (43% in the UK, 28% in Germany and 30% in Poland).

When questioned about their awareness and understanding of environmental terms, there was a clear divide between the three countries. In the UK, there was a high level of awareness and understanding of sustainability (81%) and carbon footprint (88%). Only a small fraction of respondents had heard about resource efficiency (21%) and the circular economy (7%).

Kim Christiansen, Director North Region at PlasticsEurope said: “This research recognises the need of increased engagement with consumers. Plastics waste is a valuable resource and should be considered as such, under no circumstances should plastics be landfilled.

This is why, PlasticsEurope will continue its engagement in the UK, notably by organising the IdentiPlast conference on waste management in London during the first quarter of 2019”.

For the full report, please click here.

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