Confusion over waste affecting recycling rates

Householders are increasingly confused over recycling, studies show. Picture: Jane Barlow
Householders are increasingly confused over recycling, studies show. Picture: Jane Barlow
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Blue bin on Monday, brown on Friday, red box on Tuesday. Or is it blue Friday, red Wednesday and brown Thursday?

New research shows householders are increasingly confused and frustrated over disposing of their rubbish.

A recent UK survey by waste company Viridor shows less than half of the population feel confident that they are putting waste in the correct bins.

And more than three quarters find it annoying that the list of recyclable items varies from place to place.

Mobile phones, light bulbs, crisp packets, plastic wrapping and coffee cups cause the greatest uncertainty.

Viridor’s Recycling Index puts recycling rates in Glasgow below the UK national average, with only half of residents questioned saying they recycle everything possible.

Glaswegians were also the most confused over what can and cannot be recycled.

Another study, by Serco Environmental Services (SES), suggests Scots in general are lagging behind the rest of the country when it comes to recycling to their full potential, ranking 10th out of 12 regions.

Only the Northern Irish and Londoners recycle less.

The poll also shows youngsters aged 16 to 24 are least likely to recycle all they can.

But rates increase with age. More than eight out of 10 of those in the 55 to 74 age bracket feel they do their best.

Official figures show around 45 per cent of household waste is currently recycled in the UK. There is an EU target for a rate of at least 50 per cent to be achieved by 2020.

Two thirds of those questioned by Viridor believe there should be more information available about recycling and nearly three quarters want more transparency about what happens to their waste.

Industry leaders say the findings show there is a need to simplify the waste sector.

“Progress is being challenged by ‘wrong stuff, wrong bin’,” said Martin Grey, head of public affairs at Viridor.

“People in Scotland and across the UK want to recycle more stuff, and recognise the importance of doing so, but they need better systems and support to ensure the right stuff goes in the right bin every time.”

Robin Davies, business development director for SES, said: “Councils and service providers put a lot of effort into communicating guidelines to local residents, but their job would be made easier if we all worked together to simplify and standardise recycling information.

“Clearer and consistent information would help people understand what items to put in the right bins and recycle more, leaving local authorities to set their waste collection policies to suit local needs.”