Resource Use

Age a factor for European recycling awareness says survey

Age a factor for European recycling awareness says surveyA survey into the glass recycling habits of Europeans has found that age and gender are more important factors than nationality when it comes to recycling awareness.

The survey was commissioned by Friends of Glass and carried out in partnership with the Research Institute Respondi, an awareness campaign for glass packaging created by FEVE, the European Container Glass Federation, which seeks to highlight the inertness of glass and the fact that it is infinitely recyclable. 

The habits of 8,000 people across 11 countries were surveyed, including from the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Croatia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Results were assessed based on age, nationality and gender and revealed that although 94 per cent of those surveyed were aware of the importance of recycling glass packaging, younger Europeans were shown to be less informed, with the over 60s being most aware.

Glass recycling awareness

According to Friends of Glass, one kilogramme (kg) of recycled glass replaces 1.2kg of raw materials and reduces CO2 emissions by 67 per cent. Additionally, there is a three per cent energy saving for every 10 per cent of recycled glass added to the furnace making it the ‘best packaging material’.

The survey was performed across Europe to assess participation and awareness of glass recycling and its recycling properties. It revealed that awareness of glass recycling is particularly high across Europe, with 73 per cent of glass bottles and jars collected for recycling and 90 per cent of these perpetually recycled.

When asked if they knew that glass could be infinitely recycled, over 50 per cent of 18-29 year olds in the UK claimed that they did, compared with 77 percent of 50-59 year olds. 

Of the younger age category 96.4 per cent took part in recycling but only 31.4 per cent considered glass to be the most environmentally friendly type of packaging.

In terms of gender, the survey revealed that women were less aware than men of the sustainable properties of glass. This was true for the UK, Germany and the Czech Republic. Of the 11 countries survey Switzerland had the highest rate of recycling at 99.6 per cent followed by Germany with a rate of 88.6 per cent.

France and Spain showed the highest awareness of glass recycling properties with awareness levels at 74 per cent and 77 per cent respectively. In comparison, the awareness in the UK is 66.3 per cent.

Glass is a ‘never-ending resource’

Rebecca Cocking, Head of Container Affairs at British Glass, speaking on behalf of Friends of Glass UK, commented: “While it’s encouraging to see so many millennials taking the trouble to recycle, it’s a concern that their awareness that glass can be recycled an infinite number of times isn’t higher. Obviously more work needs to be done to highlight the brilliant sustainable properties of glass and why it remains an important food and drink packaging material today and for the future.

“One of the great benefits of glass is just how easy it is to recycle. There has been some recent misinformation in the news about how you must wash out jars and bottles thoroughly before recycling. This isn’t necessary – a quick rinse if possible is preferable but not essential and you can pop the lids and tops back on too. These will be dealt with as part of the recycling process. We’re keen that all ages understand that glass really is a wonderful, never-ending resource with endless lives that we can all benefit from over and over again.”