More non-recyclable household waste is being put in green bins

8th February 2020 | Recycling

More non-recyclable household waste is being put in green bins as families are confused by unhelpful labels on packaging, industry experts have warned. Up to 15 per cent of items at recycling plants cannot be reused, an increase from five per cent in previous years, waste management firm Veolia said.

New research by YouGov has revealed the extent of labelling confusion among the public, with just eight per cent of respondents saying they strongly believe that recycling labels on products are clear and only 12 per cent trusting them. Although 91 per cent of the 2,000 UK adults surveyed agreed that recycling is “worth it”, public enthusiasm for being environmentally friendly seems to wane outside the home, as nearly 50 per cent said they were more likely to recycle at home than out in public.

Recyclable household waste

The mistakes have led to an increase in contamination for households in inner cities, according to Richard Kirkman, CTO of waste management firm Veolia. He said, “Deciding to put it in one bin or another, is a microdecision. Most people, most of the time are not making conscious decisions about what they’re putting in bins. So labels need to be designed so out of the corner of your eye you spot is and you put it in the right container.

In inner cities you tend to have one recycling container for everything and in that scenario we have seen contamination rates increase from historical averages of five to 10 per cent up to 10 to 15 per cent so there’s been a five per cent uplift in contamination.”

He added that people are much more aware that they need to be recycling and that “they desire to do it” which is motivating them to put things in recycling containers that they’re not sure about.

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