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INCPEN's survey reveals insights on lack of information on what happens to recyclates after collection risks undermining public confidence in recycling

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INCPEN's survey reveals insights on lack of information on what happens to recyclates after collection risks undermining public confidence in recycling

October 25, 2021 - 05:12
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LONDON, Oct. 21, 2021 (Press Release) -In England, Scotland and Wales, lack of information about what happens to recyclates after collection was given as the top reason in all three nations that negatively influences public confidence in recycling. This insight emerges from a GB-wide public survey carried out by the Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment (INCPEN).

According to the survey of over 2,000 citizens, the provision of information on what happens to recyclates after collection can positively improve confidence in recycling. Conversely, the lack of information can negatively influence public confidence, and impact on citizens’ behaviours and municipal recycling rates.

Positive influences on public confidence in recycling

In Wales, provision of information on what happens to recycling after collection is the top positive influence on public confidence in recycling at home. In England this is equal first alongside having a good service that is reliable and well-designed, this being the third top influence in Wales.

In Scotland, the top positive influence on public confidence in recycling at home is having a good service that is reliable and well-designed. Equal second influences are information on what happens to recycling after collection, and seeing lots of households in the area recycling effectively, the latter also being the second top influence in Wales and the fourth in England.

Net positive public confidence in recycling in all three nations

Overall, public confidence that recycling collected from home is actually recycled is highest in Wales with a net positive of +43%1. Scotland has a net positive of +36%, and England a net positive of +24%.

Public confidence that recycling collected from on-street bins is actually recycled is lower across all three nations with net positives of +25% in Wales, +16% in Scotland and +9% in England.

1Please see Annex 1 for calculations of all the net positive and net negative figures in the body of this news release.

Changes in public confidence in last 6 months

In the survey, more respondents in Wales and Scotland said they have seen or heard something in the last six months that impacted positively on their confidence rather than negatively. Net confidence has gone up over the last six months in Wales by +8% and Scotland by +5%.

However, in England, more respondents said they had seen or heard something to impact negatively on their confidence in recycling compared to those saying they’d seen something positive. In England, public confidence has gone down by a net negative figure of - 4% over the last six months.

Confidence and recycling behaviours

44% of respondents in England, 46% in Scotland and 50% in Wales said their own recycling behaviours are influenced by whether items actually get recycled.

Conversely, the number of respondents saying their recycling behaviours are not influenced by whether items actually get recycled were 22% in England, 24% in Wales and 26% in Scotland.

Around double the respondents say their behaviours are influenced by whether items actually get recycled than say they’re not.

Support public confidence

The top 4 positive influences in all three nations are the same although in differing order:-

  • A good service that is reliable and well-designed: top in Scotland and equal first in England.
  • Information on what happens to recycling after collection: top in Wales and equal first in England
  • Information on how well the area is doing at recycling; and
  • Seeing lots of households in the area recycle effectively.

Other influences emerging from the survey include:-

  • Seeing how the recycling is collected
  • TV news or documentaries about recycling (sixth positive influence in England and Wales)
  • Social media such as Facebook and Twitter; and
  • Word of mouth, family & friends.

Paul Vanston, CEO of INCPEN said, “A great plan now would be for the recycling supply chain to come together and shape the national and local actions to help improve public confidence because this will help with public behaviours and bolster recycling rates. INCPEN is continuing our work with those councils that have a great history of providing public information on what happens to recyclates. We are ready to broaden the partners, and the agenda, to ensure public confidence is actively supported”.

Encouraging sector s to work together on public confidence in recycling was a key call to action in INCPEN’s public launch of the survey results at the Resourcing the Future conference in London on 21 October 2021.