A new survey commissioned by PlasticsEurope and RECOUP has revealed that there is a lack of awareness about recycling amongst the 18-24 age group, with less than a third of young people in the UK recycling plastics.
The survey had more than 4,100 participants from the UK, Germany and Poland, and it showed that 29% of young people in the UK, 24% in Germany and 18% in Poland recycled their plastics.
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, the survey concluded. 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, ie 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.
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%).
Stuart Foster, RECOUP Chief Executive Officer added: “It is important to understand how consumers in different countries view the resource management options available for plastics packaging, and there are some really interesting comparisons and trends in this new study. The challenge is now to implement these learnings into future consumer engagement campaigns such as Pledge4Plastics, to ensure they continue to be effective.”