Resource Use

Survey reveals UK-wide support for ‘consistent recycling’ policies

A survey, conducted by the Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment (INCPEN), has found that 82 per cent of the UK public supports policies that would increase consistency in recycling across the UK.

Consistent recycling'Consistent recycling' initiatives aim to ensure that packaging labels across the UK carry clear and unambiguous messages, indicating either ‘Recycle’ or ‘Do not recycle’. Accordingly, the policies aim to ensure that each household in the country is able to recycle the same broad range of packaging items, minimising confusion for households.

It is important to note that these initiatives differ to Defra’s similarly named consultation on ‘Consistency in Household and Business Recycling in England’ – recently rebranded 'Simpler Recycling' – which focuses solely on England.

In England, there is an 82 per cent level of public support for consistency and labelling policies. However, this is surpassed in all the devolved nations: Northern Ireland at 86 per cent, Scotland at 85 per cent, and Wales at 84 per cent.

The survey was undertaken in September 2023, encompassing a total of 5,089 participants from the four nations of the UK.

The results of the survey were consistently high across each demographic group surveyed; this included age, gender, rural or urban living, household income, type of housing tenure and local recycling infrastructure.

UK public urges government to speed up consistent recycling policies

The INCPEN survey also investigated the extent to which consistent recycling policies were a priority for UK citizens and when implementation should take place.

A majority of English respondents said that the policy should be implemented quickly – with 38 per cent calling for implementation 'without delay' and 35 per cent calling for the policy to be in place 'by 2026’.

This response was consistent across the four nations of the UK, with the most popular response in Northern Ireland (43 per cent), Scotland (38 per cent) and Wales (41 per cent) being that the policy should be implemented ‘without delay’.

Commenting on the results, Paul Vanston, CEO of INCPEN, said: “These citizens’ survey results demonstrate beyond any doubt that consistent recycling and labelling policies are massively supported by the public across the whole of the UK.

“When added to the many calls from manufacturers, brands, retailers, councils and waste management sectors for the government to publish the policies from the 2021 consultation on consistency, the common public and industry message is ‘let’s get on with it’."

In an effort to encourage and mobilise a nationwide response, Paul Vanston added: “The public has made their position on consistency policies and timescales extremely clear.

“The challenge is now squarely on the government to swiftly publish the long-delayed confirmations of consistency policies, and then to mobilise actions with the packaging value chain to deliver improved household recycling opportunities in the speediest possible timescales.

“Yet further delays of consistency implementation are not what the public wants, which is why INCPEN wishes to foster an industry-wide call-to-action of ‘together, we’ve got this!’”

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