One in four Brits are incorrectly recycling polystyrene takeaway boxes 

With increasing takeaway habits in lockdown, sustainability being high on people’s agendas and more of us looking to recycle where we can – new figures have found that one in four people are wrongly recycling polystyrene takeaway boxes as well as plastic forks (46%).

The One Poll survey, commissioned by HLP Klearfold, has been released to gain an understanding of how much Brits really know about what they should and shouldn’t be recycling.

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The survey asked respondents if they recycle, why they recycle, and if they could identify any particular everyday plastic items that are recyclable or not such as plastic water bottles, plastic forks, polystyrene takeaway cartons, cling film and freezer bags.

Despite the vast majority of people claiming they recycle (85%), almost half (46%) are wrongly putting plastic forks and polystyrene takeaway cartons (24%) in with their recycling.

These are difficult to sort from other plastic waste and easily break into small beads which can clog up sorting machines, causing them to break down. This is ‘worrying’, says HLP Klearfold, considering the recent stats that show a staggering 733% rise in takeaway orders during the first half of this year. 

The survey also found that one in four people (21%) think that cling film is put in with household plastic recycling, however standard cling film contains a plastic called polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is hard to break down and recycle.

It’s also usually soiled with food, which can contaminate other valuable recyclables and just like polystyrene takeaway boxes and plastic cutlery, it’s also likely to jam the machines. 

Additionally one in three (30%) respondents believe freezer bags are recyclable. Generally these cannot be recycled but people should check with their local authority or take them to a local supermarket’s plastic bag recycling station.

In light of these results, and with confusion about what can and can’t be recycled, HLP Klearfold has created a free downloadable guide to help consumers discover exactly which household products are recyclable and to understand what each variant of the recycling symbol means.

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