On-the-go recycling must be “bright, bold and playful” to make it work, according to campaign group Hubbub.
Speaking at this week’s Packaging Innovations show in Birmingham, the organisation’s co-founder Gavin Ellis explained how people spent “less than two seconds” looking at a bin before they throw something away. “Bright yellow bins work,” he explained, after conducting a number of trials in cities including Leeds and Edinburgh.
So far attention has been trained on recycling at home, with recent moves to simplify the On Pack Recycling Label. Within the next three years kerbside collection systems will also be harmonised under plans announced in the government’s Resources and Waste Strategy.
However, on-the-go recycling remains an issue. As outlined in Footprint’s recent report on the future of foodservice packaging (the key findings from which were presented at this week’s event), only 42% of local authorities provide some form of on-the-go recycling. Meanwhile, the food-to-go market continues to expand. Very little is known about how much packaging there is, what the materials are, or where it all ends up.
Recycling “can be complicated […] definitely when people are out and about” said Nick Brown, head of sustainability at Coca Cola European Partners. “We have to make it hard for people to mess it up,” added Libby Peake from Green Alliance, a think tank.
And if businesses are struggling to get recycling right, moves to encourage reuse and reduce will be “even harder”, said Peake, adding that companies and policymakers must start thinking about reuse. Everyone is “mainly focused on recycling”, she said.
However, experts reassured those gathered at a packed Eco Stage that reuse is “not the death of the packaging industry”; rather it’s a chance to innovate and inspire. The government must also “be braver”.