Saturday 1 October 2016

Families think they recycle more than they really do, research suggests

Published 07/09/2016 | 00:11

A study suggests that schemes which reward people if they recycle more do not significantly boost recycling rates.
A study suggests that schemes which reward people if they recycle more do not significantly boost recycling rates.

Householders appear to be overestimating their green credentials, saying they recycle more than official statistics indicate, a survey suggests.

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There is also disagreement between couples about where the responsibility for putting out the bins lies, the poll of 2,000 people found.

Two-thirds of men (64%) in relationships claim it is up to them but fewer than 38% women say their husbands or male partners do it.

Meanwhile, 36% of women say they are responsible for rubbish but only 14% of men said their wives or girlfriends put out the bins.

The poll for recycling company SUEZ also revealed that half of those quizzed want to see more standardised packaging that is recyclable and almost as many (49%) backed council tax discounts to boost recycling rates.

Some 38% of the people questioned by YouGov said they recycled all they could in their household and a further 41% believed they recycled the majority of possible waste.

But statistics for England show recycling rates for households have stalled at 45% and even fallen slightly in the most recent assessment.

Experts say UK recycling figures could easily get over 50% with more action in the home, as Wales' 56% household recycling rate shows.

The survey found older people thought they recycled more, with 41% of those aged 55 and over saying they recycled all they could, while among 18- to 24-year-olds that figure fell to just 15%.

Overall, 44% of people think there is nothing in particular stopping them from recycling more.

But more than a fifth (22%) said their local council only collected a limited amount of materials and a similar number (21%) said they often did not know which items they could and could not recycle.

Along with standardised packaging that can be recycled and council tax discounts for those who recycle more and reduce rubbish, another popular option - with 42% support - was rewarding "good recyclers" with vouchers to spend in local shops.

Almost three-quarters (72%) thought a legal requirement on major manufacturers to provide on-pack recycling information would be effective in reducing waste from packaging, while 69% thought manufacturers being taxed on packaging would help.

David Palmer-Jones, chief executive of SUEZ recycling and recovery UK, said it was "heartening" to see there was still so much enthusiasm for recycling.

"The national recycling figures confirm that actual recycling performance has plateaued at around 45% of all household waste thrown away over the last few years - which could be explained by some of the findings of the SUEZ/YouGov survey which point to a disconnect between how much people think they are recycling and what they are really throwing away.

"If, in total, nearly eight out of 10 people think they are already recycling all, or at least the majority, of everything that can be recycled, then that may explain why many don't see the need for further improvement.

"It seems that when it comes to performance drivers, the public favours the carrot over the stick - with large support for ideas like council tax discounts and money-back schemes for those who recycle well."

Press Association

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