17 Sept. 2021. If you work in any part of the print and paper industry, it shouldn’t have escaped your notice that this week (September 20-26) is Recycle Week. Billed as the country’s annual celebration of recycling, Recycle Week celebrates all recycling across the UK, uniting retailers, brands, waste management companies, trade associations, governments and the media in promoting the act of recycling.

Now in its 18th year, the 2021 Recycle Week has the theme of ‘Step It Up’, imploring people, companies, councils and politicians to do more to encourage recycling to combat climate change. Alongside a host of big brand backers, including Britvic, PepsiCo, Defra, Amazon, Coca-Cola, Waitrose and Danone, the organisers of Recycle Week (the Waste & Resources Action Programme, or WRAP) have released the results of their latest study into recycling habits and behaviours.

The research found that 89% of UK respondents say they regularly recycle, with 56% saying they have recycled more in the past year. Encouraging results, but the study also found that UK citizens want more information about what they can and can’t recycle in their kerbside collection, with almost half (44%) say they are not satisfied with the clarity of this information.

The Information Gap
What the WRAP study shows is that, while there is certainly an enthusiasm among the public for recycling, there is a need for more and better information. Providing people with clear details on exactly what can and can’t be recycled, as well as advice on subjects such as contamination, will go a long way to improving efficiency and increasing the amount of materials going into the recycling system.

For instance, according to a report by Robinsons, one in five people don’t know that you can recycle tin foil, which is widely recycled in a lot of councils, and 22% feel confused about what to do with wine corks (you can put them in your home compost bin). In total, 42% of respondents don’t feel educated enough about their impact on the environment.

“Now more than ever, it’s vital we do everything we can to protect our planet and go that extra mile,” says Sarah Clayton, Head of Citizen Behaviour Change at WRAP. “Most of us recycle, but we need to do more to combat climate change. We need people to look at what they are putting in their bins and ensure they’re the right things. It all adds up. The UK’s current recycling saves 18 million tonnes of CO2 every year, which is the same as taking 12 million cars off the road.”

Want To Know More? Ask Your Kids
One positive fact to come out of the flurry of recent reports into recycling is that young people are putting pressure on the adults to do more for the environment. In a recent Pro Carton study*, 78% of 11-17 year olds across Europe stated that they nag their parents about being more environmentally friendly, with 89% saying that companies and brands should be doing more to help the environment.

Meanwhile, in the Robinsons study, nearly three-quarters of parents say their children influence the family’s recycling habits at home, with 59% of parents believing their children are extra-motivated to positively impact the environment.

“The younger generation have firm views on what the environmental issues are, what needs to be done and who should be doing it,” says Tony Hitchin, General Manager of Pro Carton. “If anything, they are more environmentally conscious than their parents’ generation. Young people are the next custodians of our planet, which is why we believe it’s important that we listen to their views and act on their concerns.”

For more information about Recycle Week, go to www.wrap.org.uk

*Pro Carton Study – Gen Z The Future Is In Their Hands

By: Sam Upton