recycling plastic bottles

Benefits of recycling still largely a mystery to British public, poll suggests

The benefits of recycling are not clearly understood by the majority of people in Britain, according to a new poll.

Although the majority saw that there are benefits to recycling, they did not understand how their rubbish would be used or which products could make use of the discarded materials.

A quarter (26 per cent) even said they did not see a direct benefit at all and most people were unaware that their recycled aerosol cans could find new life in a mobile phone or that recycling glass can save electricity.

The poll, from recycling campaign Recycle Now, surveyed the opinions of 2,426 people as new data shows that recycling rates in London have dropped to their lowest level since 2010.

More than two thirds (67 per cent) did not realise recycled shampoo bottles could come back as a children’s outdoor play set and almost as many did not know recycling glass jars can save electricity.

Making an item from recycled plastic takes 75 per cent less energy than from scratch and an item made from recycled metal uses 95 per cent less energy than a product from fresh material.

The survey, conducted by Censuswide, is being released at the start of Recycle Week, which this year aims to encourage people to recycle by demonstrating the tangible benefits of the process.

In addition to environmental benefits, recycling can prove to be an economic boon. A London-focused report released last week suggested that if the capital adopted a so-called “circular model” to cut waste, it could create 12,000 new jobs, provide a £7bn net benefit to the city’s economy.

“We know that understanding the recycling process motivates people to recycle,” said Linda Crichton, head of Recycle Now.

“Our aim this Recycle Week is for more people to find out their deodorant could come back in a mobile phone, or their sweetie box as a toothpaste box, and - as a result - be encouraged to recycle more because they can see it’s worth it.”

She added that nearly half the plastic bottles (44 per cent) used in the UK are not put in the recycling, which means 29 billion bottles could evade being recycled in the four years up to 2020.

“Every little helps and recycling one more thing can have a big impact,” she urged.

Recycle Now said recycling reduces the amount of waste sent to landfill and saves energy, which in turn cuts greenhouse gases which cause climate change.

Environment minister Therese Coffey said: “Recycle Week is an excellent reminder of the big difference we can all make to protect our environment by disposing of our rubbish responsibility.”

She said new initiatives from waste reduction body Wrap and industry were making it easier for households to recycle as much as possible.

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