30% Of Younger Generation Confused By Recycling Information

According to a recent survey, 3 in 10 people don’t recycle as much as they could at home, with 38% citing confusing information on packaging or from councils as the reason.


The results showed a spike among the younger generation, with 57% of 16-34 year olds admitting to not recycling as much as they should because of confusion over what materials can be recycled.

This finding leads to questions about the means by which local authorities and waste service providers are communicating with their younger residents. The poll shows that the likelihood to recycle increases with age, with 82% of 55-74 year olds and 88% over 75s saying they recycle all they can.


People living in Wales, which has been praised for its cohesive and ambitious recycling strategy, were among the most likely to say that they are already recycling all they can (75%) compared to those living in parts of England, such as the West Midlands (69%) and London (68%). People living in Northern Ireland (63%) were least likely to say they recycle all they can.

The findings come from a survey conducted by Serco’s Environmental Services business and long-term research partner Future Thinking, which surveyed over 12,000 members of the general public and has been published to mark National Recycle Week (12-18 September).

Other reasons people gave for not recycling more, included: the need for collections to be more frequent (8%); the need for some kind of financial reward (5%); that they did not have recycling bags or bins (5%); they didn’t believe it was being recycled (4%) and, that they simply could not be bothered (3%).


In response to the findings, professionals are urging the waste industry to work together with local authorities, retailers and consumer goods manufacturers to standardise recycling communications and develop a simpler recycling labelling system for food and product packaging which is easier for consumers of all ages to understand.

Serco’s Business Development Director said: “Clearer and consistent information would help people understand what items to put in the right bins and recycle more, leaving local authorities to set their waste collection policies to suit local needs, and building greater confidence among the public that items that can be recycled are being recycled”.

Claire Tyrrell-Williams, associate director at Future Thinking added:  “Changing people’s behaviour and attitudes when it comes to recycling should be a priority going forward. Providing people with the right tools and information, while making the most of the latest insights into human behaviour, is a crucial part of delivering a sustainable and environmentally-conscious future.”

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