New UK study shows nearly half of parents shamed by their children for poor recycling practises

The new study by Metal Packaging Manufacturers Association (MPMA) is supported by a consumer quiz, linked below.

A poll of 2,000 mums and dads of school-aged children, conducted by the Metal Packaging Manufacturers Association (MPMA), found that 41% of parents believe it is really their children who drive recycling and sustainability attitudes at home, thanks to the popularity of teenage environmental campaigner Greta Thunberg.

MPMA found that 43% of parents have faced a telling off from their offspring for not making more effort with the recycling – an average of three times a week. Of those, 56% have been reprimanded for throwing something like a can in the bin instead of recycling it, while four in 10 have had words for buying items in non-recyclable packaging.

Another 35% have been reprimanded by youngsters for not washing out cans or jars properly before putting them out with the recycling. The study also found that more than a third of parents admitted that their children know more about the environment and recycling than they do, and seven in 10 blame their own confusion about what can and can’t be recycled for their fall outs with their children.

Robert Fell, CEO and director, Metal Packaging Manufacturers Association, said: “Recycling has come on in leaps and bounds even in the last few years – things that weren’t able to be recycled by councils are now much more widely re-usable. Because of this, children now learning about how to be green at school, and figures like Greta Thunberg proving popular, many youngsters know more about recycling than their parents.

“It’s great to see that so many parents are being picked up on things they may not be doing correctly when it comes to recycling – even if it is by their children.

“Children are very enthusiastic about the environment and it could be an opportunity for people to learn more about what they can be doing more of to improve their recycling – even if it’s as simple as remembering to recycle a can instead of just throwing it away.”

The MPMA study also found that 35% of parents are happy to admit their offspring care more about recycling than they do themselves. While 28% of those who have been ‘eco-shamed’ by their children felt ashamed and 33% felt guilty, four in 10 were proud of them for picking them up on it and for caring so much about the environment.

According to MPMA, two thirds of parents think their children’s eco-education comes from school, while another fifth put it down to simple internet research. Newspapers account for 10% of sustainability knowledge in children, while a quarter get it from green-leaning TV shows. A third of parents say their children ‘look up to’ Greta Thunberg, leading to a passion for being green.

Almost half (45%) of parents are even influenced by their kids to ‘think green’ when food shopping, says the MPMA, with more than half encouraged by their offspring to buy items in packaging like cans or cardboard which can be recycled. However, despite the prompting from their children, one in five parents often throw things out that could be recycled because they’re confused about what can and can’t go in the green bin. Despite nine in 10 people thinking that tin cans can be recycled, more than a fifth had no idea that you can recycle metal paint cans. As a result, while 10% admitted to being more likely to throw a can into the bin than recycling it, 24% would do the same with metal paint pots.

Almost half of those polled, via OnePoll, even admitted they sometimes throw recyclable items out with the rubbish because it is easier than trying to work out whether it can be recycled. Reportedly, 46% have binned a can because they couldn’t be bothered to wash it out, even though four in 10 are aware that this isn’t essential to the recycling process. Many also know more than they think about how to recycle metal packaging, with more than eight in 10 aware you don’t have to crush cans, while three quarters know you don’t need to remove paper labels.

Fell added: “Even now, there’s a lot of confusion among consumers about what counts as recyclable waste.Things like cans of paint, old technology like phones and keyboards, and even trays from fruit punnets leave millions in a flap.

“This is why it’s so important that the younger generation keeps up their interest in helping save the planet – beginning with their own homes.”

For more information and to try the MPMA’s online quiz to see how much you know about metal packaging recycling, visit:

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