OPRL’s consumer research shows support for recycling

At OPRL we think it is important to understand consumers and their drivers for and against recycling.

Therefore, we regularly carry out independent consumer surveys.

The most recent survey of 5,010 people across the UK, carried out earlier this year, shows that despite the cost-of-living crisis, recycling is still important for consumers. However, over half of respondents said they cannot always understand whether or not packaging can be recycled.

Consistency and issues around trust in recycling claims also rated high. After reviewing the research Margaret Bates, Managing Director here at OPRL had this to say: “It is really encouraging to hear that even with the challenges of the cost-of-living crisis, 68% of our respondents think that recycling is as important – or more important – than ever. The key is to make recycling information clear and easy to locate. Luckily, consumers also told us how to resolve this.”

The research found that the majority of consumers look for recycling information when they come to dispose of packaging. It has been made clear from the research that the clarity and consistency of recycling messages on packaging is needed, with almost 80% of people surveyed saying that it was important that recycling labels on packaging follow a consistent format.

Confusing information has a direct impact on the volume of packaging recycled. Our survey showed that 42% of those who are unsure about recyclability will take a guess. This means that items are placed in recycling containers, where they may contaminate the recycling stream. Another 22% of our respondents told us that when they are unsure, they choose not to recycle. In both these cases, potentially recyclable packaging is falling through the gap, for want of clear information.

Trust in recycling claims came under fire. Consumers said they wanted to see a standard labelling system that eliminated doubt, while 38% agreed that, ‘I don’t believe that all packaging that claims that it can be recycled is actually recyclable’.

Margaret concluded that: “the fact that recycling is still as important to consumers in 2023 is something to celebrate. If we are to harness this enthusiasm, we need to ensure that consumers are given the correct information in a format they can understand.”