A consumer perceptions study has indicated that consumers are “most uncertain” about recycling plastics ahead of any other material, with mixed messaging from councils leading to increased confusion amongst householders.
The study, which was led by Recoup and supported with funding from DEFRA and Kent Resource Partnership (KRP) amongst others, aims deliver an alignment of information that will help to minimise confusion and contradictory messaging, maximise the potential for the right actions being taken by consumers and ultimately lead to more plastics collected for recycling.
“Consumer education is a key driver for behavioral change and to increasing plastic recycling rates,” said Cllr Barrington-King, KRP Chair. “Consumers need ongoing help on which plastics can be recycled as technology progresses, and why there may be economic limitations for some plastics. It’s also important consumers see the evidence of how their actions have positive impacts.”
When asked about the recycling of various materials, plastic was the material consumers were most uncertain about (63 percent). There was also a wide range of responses from consumers when asked to give their council a score out for ten relating to how clear the instructions on plastics recycling are, including over 40 percent giving a score of six or less.
The desire for more information about recycling was clear with three quarters of respondents stating that they are ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ interested to find out more about what happens to their plastics.
When asked about the acceptability of different disposal options for plastics, households indicated near-universal acceptability for recycling, and, in contrast, the vast majority considered sending plastics to landfill unacceptable. Over 70 percent of respondents also considered burning plastics as a form of energy from waste acceptable, more acceptable than sending plastics to other countries to be recycled.
Stuart Foster, Recoup CEO, said the plastic recycling consumer survey was “one of the largest and most insightful ever undertaken,” which gives “a fantastic platform” to develop a communications initiative which can achieve maximum impact based on the feedback received.
“The steering group will use the information from the consumer insight work to continue to develop plans which will culminate in a Summer 2014 initiative launch,” he added.
The summary findings report and accompanying results are available through the Recoup website, www.recoup.org