Educating ourselves & others for Global Recycling Day

Findings from Barratt Homes' recent UK consumer recycling study. Infographic: Barratt Homes

The 18 March marks the sixth Global Recycling Day.

By now, the world’s clued up to the pollution caused by companies and the general public not recycling properly. However, as the metal packaging industry reiterates again and again (and as you can read in our Asia CanTech preview feature with CMI), more communication is needed to really drive the message home and ensure we’re acting on this issue in the most effective way.

I spoke to Alupro’s Tom Giddings recently (more on this soon) about how crucial recycling schemes are – thinking about Alupro’s aerosol recycling initiative, aerosol containers seem to still perplex consumers, and often end up in landfill because of this. My fiancé still pauses before putting an empty deodorant container in the recycling. Messaging really does need to be clear on packaging, and the right recycling infrastructure should be in place via long-term investment.

Additionally, a study by Barratt Homes has revealed that three in four Brits are still unsure, when putting something in recycling, whether it can actually be recycled or not. And 32 per cent of the 2,000 people surveyed were reportedly unaware that tins can be recycled (cartons came out on top, with 40 per cent not knowing about their recyclability).

Gareth Rondel, head of sustainability delivery at Barratt Homes, has revealed some tips for helping consumers better navigate their recycling habits. He says, “Start by locating a suitable place to store your recycling in the home, this could be either in a bag, a box, or a bin. Keep the container next to the general waste bin to remind everyone that items should be recycled, and it’s just as easy to do this as binning them.”

Rondel’s tip is a good one; in my house, the kitchen bin is a dual one so we can just as easily put something in the recycling as the rubbish bin.

Kathy Illingworth, head of sustainability consulting at environmental compliance data specialist, Ecoveritas, points out that “Most of us are lucky enough to be able to throw ‘away’ our waste for it never to cross our minds again. We all need to connect with the waste we are creating and stop thinking that because it’s taken away from us, it isn’t our responsibility to reduce it.”

Ecoveritas is currently focusing its Global Recycling Day attention on calling for clarity on the destination of hundreds of millions pounds raised from the UK’s Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT).

The government is on target to take £250 million from the PPT after it cost £20 million to administer, but the Treasury says the funds will not be ringfenced for recycling because it needs “flexibility to manage public finances.”

Josh Corradi-Remi, Ecoveritas’ commerical manager, said the funds generated by the PPT “present an opportunity to build a world-beating recycling infrastructure that can provide high-value, high-quality recycled materials to reduce dependency on virgin materials.”

“PPT revenues of circa £230 million could help deliver this,” he estimated. Funds of this size would definitely make a difference, but it might be a case of ‘chance would be a fine thing,’ currently.

However, for Global Recycling Day and beyond, let’s keep fighting the good fight and educating those around us of the endless recyclability of metal packaging, and the significant opportunity it presents in tackling pollution and climate change.

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