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Wales catches the recycling bug in record numbers

Growing media interest about the environmental impact of packaging, new government policy and plastic-free packaging strategies adopted by leading retailers have pushed packaging to the forefront of consumers’ minds.

In response to growing consumer concern about packaging, exclusive new research suggests the UK’s interest in recycling is at an all-time high.

The research on behalf of Beyond the Box surveyed more than 2,000 adults across the UK, revealing a surge of interest in packaging and recycling. Almost two thirds (63%) of those in Wales claim to be worried about packaging and the types of materials used to package their favourite products – and one in 20 claim it is currently the biggest concern in their life.

Bringing together experts from leading UK packaging companies, Beyond the Box, launched by the Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI), will help Britons learn more about the nation’s sustainable packaging choice: corrugated cardboard.

Of the Welsh respondents worried about packaging, two thirds (66%) said they felt there was currently too much packaging waste, more than a third (38%) said they would appreciate a greater choice of packaging materials, and a similar number (35%) admitted that Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet 2 programme had shocked them into thinking more about their packaging choices.

It seems many consumers are already making changes to their purchasing habits, too. More than half of Welsh respondents (54%) revealed they were now trying to buy products that clearly came in recyclable packaging, two in five (43%) said they were buying more loose fruit and veg in the supermarket, whilst an increasing number of shoppers said they were supporting local businesses such as greengrocers, butchers and fishmongers in an attempt to ease their worries over packaging.

Plastic was found to be the material that particularly concerns Wales’s residents, with eight out of 10 packaging worriers (85%) saying it caused them the most anxiety. In contrast, cardboard was found to be among the least concerning packaging materials for Wales, cited by just 1% of those worried about packaging.

Wales gets the Recycling Bug

In line with consumers’ increased interest in packaging, it seems that those living in Wales are also avid recyclers, with the country’s householders now claiming to put out more than two thirds of their household waste (69%) for kerbside recycling collections.

When compared with the rest of the UK, householders in Wales are joined by Scotland and the East of England to boast the best record on recycling with those living in Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Norwich claiming to put out around two thirds of their total household waste for kerbside recycling. Whilst some of the UK’s lowest recycling rates were found to be in some of the UK’s largest cities, including Birmingham and Belfast (both 56%). Regionally, the lowest recycling rates were found to be in the East Midlands and North East (50.4% and 52.4% respectively).

Nationally, the Beyond the Box research reveals two thirds of householders report that kerbside collections now take place no more frequently than once a fortnight – but for Wales, it can be more than three times a month. Almost 70% of Welsh households said they would recycle more if their local authorities increased collections or provided more recycling bins.

Commenting on the findings, Beyond the Box spokesperson Andy Barnetson explains:

“Our findings show that interest and concern about the UK’s packaging supply chain has never been higher, whilst Wales’s growing appetite for recycling is clear.

“Packaging is a subject which has shot up everyone’s agendas, and whilst our research makes it clear that no type of packaging is immune from criticism, it also shows that there is a real opportunity for renewable and recyclable materials like corrugated cardboard to play an even bigger role in providing the sustainable packaging solutions we all seek.

“Meanwhile, it is clear that there is an opportunity for us all to work together to improve the UK’s recycling rates even further, be it through increasing the number of collections and providing greater capacity, or educating householders about which types of packaging can be recycled.”