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Research reveals clearer signage is required to get more people recycling

New research has revealed that the public are still confused about recycling with one of the biggest challenges as a nation is that of recycling outside of the home.

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

Brand new research conducted by YouGov and commissioned by Veolia found that only eight per cent of Brits strongly believe that recycling labelling on products is clear and that only 12 per cent of them trust this recycling labelling on products.

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

DEFRA is tackling these labelling issues head on with its 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.

Richard Kirkman, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer of UK and Ireland at Veolia said: “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.”

Jane Bevis, Chair 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.”

Encouragingly, 66 per cent of people have said it has become easier to recycle in the last five years, with 91 per cent of people agreeing that recycling is indeed ‘worth it’, in terms of time and energy output.

Veolia aims to inject fresh perspective into these recycling situations to revolutionise the UK’s waste disposal tendencies, meet DEFRA’s July 2020 targets and regenerate the environment.  Its research found that the most common place for people to look to for recycling information is on the bins themselves. Veolia is encouraging the pairing of clearer signage across locations with consistent labelling to ensure a reduction in the imbalance of recycling in the workplace, when out and when at home.

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