New research unveiled today shows public still confused about recycling

New research unveiled today shows public still confused about recycling

One of the biggest challenges as a nation is recycling outside of the home


With just over 40% of East Midlands consumer’s admitting that recycling confuses them in general, Veolia, the UK’s leading resource management company, is calling the industry to action.  Brand new research conducted by YouGov found that only 6% of adults from the East Midlands strongly believe that recycling labelling on products is clear and that only 14% of them completely trust this recycling labelling on products.  


The public confusion with and distrust of recycling labelling leads to lower recycling rates. Recycling is a constant environmental commitment, yet the research found that when out and about, nearly half of the public find information on this unclear. A huge disparity between habits when at home, in the office and being out was uncovered by this research. In fact, the East Midlands public are nearly 50% more likely to always recycle at home compared to when out and a third more likely to always recycle at home than at work. This leaves a huge amount of materials going to waste.


DEFRA are tackling these labelling issues head on with their groundbreaking Resources and Waste Strategy coming to fruition throughout the course of the year. This progressive strategy will harmonise  recycling labelling, making it clearer to consumers, in turn this should increase recycling habits.


Richard Kirkman, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer of UK and Ireland says,

“How can we expect people to recycle if they don’t trust the information presented to them? The nation is ready: people are onboard with recycling. To reach our targets, the UK needs standardisation in the initial stage of the chain.  There is an answer: binary labelling which clearly states if it can or can’t be recycled. This paired with signage and the consistency in guidelines to accommodate all locations is fundamental to help people separate their products correctly. These fundamental changes will shake up the system, making the move towards a circular economy and resuscitating the environment.”


Jane Bevis, Chair OPRL (On Pack Recycling Label) says,

"Consumers tell us that clear, consistent advice is essential - they want to do the right thing and they want recycling labels on packaging to give practical information they can trust.  That's why we've redesigned our labels to give a simple 'Recycle' or 'Don't Recycle' message, summarising the evidence on what councils collect, what MRFs can sort, what gets re-processed and what gets turned into new packaging or products.  It's time for a single mandatory labelling system that consumers know they can rely on."


Veolia aims to inject fresh perspective into these recycling situations to revolutionise the UK’s waste disposal tendencies, meet DEFRA’s July 2020 targets and regenerate the environment.  Our research found that the most common place for people to look to for recycling information is on the bins themselves. Veolia is encouraging the pairing of clearer signage across locations with consistent labelling to ensure a reduction in the imbalance of recycling in the workplace, when out and when at home. In the meantime it is important for people to use their local council websites to ensure they are recycling the correct materials.


Some key results found in this research were:

  • Encouragingly, 64% of people from the East Midlands have said it has become easier to recycle in the last 5 years. 

  • The older you are, the more likely you are to always recycle

  • 92% of people from the East Midlands agreed that recycling is indeed ‘worth it’, in terms of time and energy output


For more information on how to recycle correctly, visit .


Recycling top tips

  • All clean paper and cardboard can go into your kerbside recycling bin

  • Cans, tins and aerosols can be recycled in your kerbside recycling bin

  • Plastic bottles, margarine tubs and yoghurt pots can go into your kerbside recycling bin. 

  • Remember that waste electronics cannot go in your household recycling bin - remove the batteries and take them to any of the 12 Recycling Centres in Nottinghamshire.

  • Help us all to recycle more by ensuring that nappies, food waste, glass and textiles don’t go into your kerbside recycling bin.


Notes to the Editor


All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2022 adults. 156 respondents were from the East Midlands. Fieldwork was undertaken between 5th - 6th December 2019.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).


Veolia group is the global leader in optimized resource management. With over 171,000 employees worldwide, the Group designs and provides water, waste and energy management solutions which contribute to the sustainable development of communities and industries. Through its three complementary business activities, Veolia helps to develop access to resources, preserve available resources, and to replenish them.


In 2018, the Veolia group supplied 95 million people with drinking water and 63 million people with wastewater service, produced nearly 56 million megawatt hours of energy and converted 49 million metric tons of waste into new materials and energy. Veolia Environnement (listed on Paris Euronext: VIE) recorded consolidated revenue of €25.91 billion in 2018 (USD 30.6 billion).