Resource Use

Loss of public confidence in recycling linked to lack of information on recyclates post-collection

The Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment (INCPEN) has suggested that a lapse in public confidence in recycling across England, Scotland and Wales stems mostly from a lack of information surrounding what happens to recyclates after collection.

Recycling ratesThe findings come after a nationwide survey carried out by the body targeted over 2,000 citizens – in the same way that it links lack of information to negative recycling habits, INCPEN’s study connects the provision of guidance to an improvement in public confidence towards waste disposal.

Positive influences on public confidence in recycling

In terms of the positive influences on public confidence in recycling recorded by the study, INCPEN found that, in Wales, the provision of information was the top agent of change; whereas, in England, the provision of information was equal alongside the implementation of a reliable and well-designed collection service. The leading positive influence in Scotland was, like England, access to a dependable service, with the provision of information coming second, together with observing effective household recycling in the local area.

As for net positive public confidence, Wales scored the highest, demonstrating a net positive attitude of +43 per cent. Scotland noted a figure of +36 per cent, whilst England came in at third with +24 per cent. In contrast with this, public confidence that collected recyclates from on-street bins actually end up being recycled was significantly lower. Here, Wales scored +25 per cent; Scotland scored +16 per cent; and England scored +9 per cent.

Attitudes have changed over the past six months, however. Net public confidence in recycling has increased by +8 per cent in Wales and +5 per cent in Scotland, with a quantity of the respondents stating that they had either ‘seen or heard something’ over the past half-year that impacted positively on their confidence rather than negatively. In opposition to this, in England, public confidence has dropped by -4 per cent, with more respondents having ‘seen or heard something’ to negatively impact their levels of conviction.

Confidence in recycling and the recycling of recyclates

In terms of what influences confidence in recycling, the majority of respondents stated that the largest impact was whether items actually get recycled: 50 per cent of respondents in Wales, 46 per cent in Scotland, and 44 per cent in England cited this as the defining authority. In comparison to this, only 24 per cent of respondents in Wales, 26 per cent in Scotland and 22 per cent in England state that this is not a significant influence.

Consequently, with the launch of the survey results at the Resourcing the Future conference on 21 October, INCPEN has been encouraging sectors to collaborate in order to ensure public confidence in recycling, stressing the importance of education on what happens to recyclates after they are collected in order to do so.

Paul Vanston, CEO of INCPEN, commented: “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”.