Britons are getting recycling wrong

According to a new survey from the British Science Association, Britons are regularly misunderstanding what can and cannot be recycled, damaging the environment in the process.

Although the study revealed that the public are more conscious as ever when it comes to recycling, of the 2000 participants that were quizzed on what they believed can and cannot be recycled, not one was able to get full marks.

44% of participants believed they should put hand soap pump dispenser tops in their recycling bins when they should be removed from the hand soap bottle, 34% incorrectly believed that used kitchen roll is recyclable and over 20% are recycling greasy pizza boxes, coffee cups and plastic bags.

Ivvet Modinou, head of engagement at the British Science Association, has called for clearer information on packaging. He said: ‘It’s encouraging to see lots of people are concerned about plastic waste, but what you can and can’t put in the recycle bin can often be confusing.

The industry as a whole needs to address this issue if we are to collectively improve recycling performance. For instance, manufacturers of plastic products could provide clearer information on packaging and local councils should be actively working to improve guidance for local residents. In addition, small, individual actions can really make a difference – such as asking your local cafe not to stock plastic straws – or checking the back of the packaging for recycling information.’

Craig Stephens, campaign manager for Recycle Now, said: ‘79% of plastic waste ever created is still in our environment. While more and more of us are recycling, it’s clear that it’s as important as ever for everyone to go the extra mile to protect our planet.’

The survey revealed the following items as the ones all age groups thought they could put in the recycle bin:

  1. Soap pump dispenser tops (44%)
  2. Used kitchen roll (34%)
  3. Shiny/metallised wrapping paper (26%)
  4. Coffee cups (24%)
  5. Glass that isn’t a bottle or jar e.g. window glass (23%)
  6. Plastic bags (22%)
  7. Straws (21%)
  8. Greasy takeaway pizza boxes (21%)
  9. Soft plastic / metallic packaging like pet food pouches (19%)
  10. Photo paper (18.50%)

The following items were ones that participants in the survey didn’t realise they could recycle:

  1. Kitchen foil and foil trays which are used but still clean (66%)
  2. Empty deodorant aerosols and hairspray with the plastic cap (58%)
  3. Empty surface cleaner bottle with the trigger spray (57%)
  4. Metal lids (56%)
  5. Empty bleach bottles (51%)

For more information on the survey visit the British Science Association

Thomas Barrett

Thomas Barrett

Journalist. Follow him on Twitter

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