Public wants national standard for packaging recycling

16th July 2019 | Recycling

The British public wants all food packaging to be made 100 per cent recyclable anywhere in the country, according to a survey of over 6,000 people published today (16 July). The research, which assesses UK citizens’ opinions around food waste and packaging, was commissioned by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), and the Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment (INCPEN) and was carried out by Icaro Consulting. The survey builds on previous research from 2012 and reveals how public concern about waste has grown since then.

When asked which five issues around food most concerned them, 40 per cent of respondents said food waste, up from 33 per cent in 2012, while 28 per cent said they were concerned about the way food products are packaged – an increase of 12 percentage points since 2012. In fact, 53 per cent of respondents said they were either “much more concerned” or “a little more concerned” about food packaging and plastic packaging in general compared to last year, with a growing awareness of plastic waste and its environmental impact influenced by increased media coverage.


Hard-to-recycle forms of packaging like crisp packets and sweet wrappers were the most concerning form of packaging, followed closely by black plastic trays and plastic film. When asked about changes that would make a difference, the largest amount of respondents (44 per cent) said that making all food packaging completely recyclable is the most important change needed, so that “wherever consumers live they can recycle everything in the council collection.” Linked to this, 59 per cent said “clear and definitive labelling” was needed to make sure packaging goes into the right bins.

“Food packaging remains high on the news agenda, and in the minds of the public who want to see action,” commented WRAP UK’s Director, Peter Maddox. “It is important to remember that well designed packaging is very effective, and demonising it is not helpful. So it is heartening to see that almost half of respondents want to see packaging that is fully recyclable as their topmost action.

We must also keep the role of packaging in preventing food waste front of mind, and the dire impacts on climate change that food waste could have if we do not tackle it urgently.”

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