There is a lack of awareness about recycling amongst young citizens aged between 18-24, with fewer than 1 in 3 recycling plastics, according to a new survey commissioned by PlasticsEurope and RECOUP.
The survey, with over 4,100 participants from the UK, Germany and Poland, also showed that despite a low 29% recycling rate among the youth, the UK's rate stands above Germay's 24% and Poland's 18%.
When it comes to the average population, only 45% of consumers recycle all plastics after using them in the UK. This compares against 51% in Germany and 35% in Poland.
The main reason most consumers cited for not recycling was confusion and being “ill-informed” about what types of plastics are accepted for recycling.
In Poland, respondents cited other barriers, with 17% saying they were not willing and another 17% describing it as ‘inconvenient'.
Consumers, however, showed their preference towards recycling, as opposed to landfilling in terms of waste management, with 93% in the UK voting for recycling. The figures for Germany and Poland were 95% and 94%.
The survey concluded that a large number of Germans, 74%, as well as a majority of British and Polish citizens (64% and 54% respectively) were eager to know more about what happens to plastics once they are collected.
When questioned about their awareness and understanding of environmental terms, there was a clear divide between the three countries. In the UK, at 81%, there was a high level of awareness and understanding of sustainability and 88% knew about carbon footprint.
However, only 21% of respondents had heard about resource efficiency and 7% about circular economy in the UK.
"This research recognises the need of increased engagement with consumers. Plastics waste is a valuable resource and should be considered as such, under no circumstances should plastics be landfilled,” said Kim Christiansen, director north region at PlasticsEurope commenting on the survey results.
This is why, he added, PlasticsEurope will continue its engagement in the UK.
As part of this, the organisation is holding the IdentiPlast conference on waste management in London during the first quarter of 2019.