Education is essential to tackle plastic pollution

Education and appealing to people’s priorities is essential to creating sustained change around recycling habits, says new report.

Environmental behaviour change company Greenredeem piloted a year-long programme involving interactive recycling kiosks and educational activities at 25 schools in Windsor and Maidenhead.

Pupils could scan and deposit drinks bottles while engaging with videos, images and facts about recycling and the environment. Students also received a tailored lesson plan developed with non-profit organisation Plastic Oceans UK, to help educate the pupils on how to responsibly consume and dispose of plastics.

Every bottle disposed of earned 5 pence for the schools which could then be spent on further educational initiatives.

Throughout the year-long programme, 12,000 pupils recycled nearly 160,000 bottles, weighing a combined total of 5 tonnes.

These bottles were collected each week and were then recycled to create new bottles.

Following this scheme, Greenredeem found that 75% of pupils said being able to help their school motivated them to recycle more.

The company has highlighted that the best way to achieve sustained change is through education and by appealing to people’s priorities.

Matthew Ball, managing director of Greenredeem, said: ‘In the UK, 3 billion plastic bottles are thrown away, littered or never recycled every year.

‘There is a clear need for the Government and the industry – from manufacturer to retailer, collector to the processor – to find long term solutions. We must invest in convenient solutions that create sustained behaviour change by linking recycling with education, good causes and people’s priorities.

‘The flexible model we piloted provides a readily available and scalable solution which benefits everyone involved.

‘We look forward to discussing the outcomes of this pilot with Defra as it consults on England’s future waste & recycling strategy. Although the financial reward helped to drive action, the educational initiatives ensured a deeper connection to the cause, helping these behaviours to become sustained.

‘If the Government backs this kind of long-term model, we can make a significant improvement to plastic bottle recycling in the UK.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay

 

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Pippa Neill

Pippa Neill

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