More than 94% of Brits would like to see more on-the-go recycling points installed in public places. This isn’t surprising.
Meanwhile, 89% recycle drinks packaging when at home, but just 41% do so when they’re out and about. That isn’t surprising either – but it is worrying.
Lack of bins is the big issue, followed by overflowing ones, the research conducted by Lucid, a polling agency, and the Every Can Counts campaign found.
Intriguingly, 73% said they had recycled more than ever during the pandemic. Is this because they had time to decipher the labels and sort their packaging? Or is it because they are buying more food to eat at home (where recycling is easier) and far less on-the-go (with that packaging they struggle to recycle)?
Councils are cash-strapped and the number of street bins available has plummeted. Fewer than half of local authorities have on-the-go street infrastructure to collect and recycle packaging. The quality is poor so the collection costs don’t stack up.
As one packager quipped in a report for Footprint/BaxterStorey last year: “It doesn’t matter what goes in [street bins], whether it’s a cup or a gold bar, it’ll be incinerated.”
That research highlighted how little data there is on the packaging that’s out there; let alone where it goes and how people dispose of it. Waste contractors reckoned “half” could end up back in offices. This could well change as the world changes due to covid-19.
Maybe there won’t be the estimated 13 billion plastic bottles and 3 billion coffee cups, but this waste – or rather valuable resource – needs to be managed better. Hubbub, with support from the likes of Sodexo, Bunzl, Innocent and Caffè Nero has been doing a lot of work in this space. Leeds, Swansea, Dublin and Edinburgh are all running trials and research. More is needed.
Reuse will also play a part. McDonald’s is keen (having signed up to the Loop project) but closed environments could provide a quick win. The survey mentioned above also asked people about sporting events: some 94% felt recycling provisions were currently sub-par, while 92% suggested that these events should only use recyclable drink containers.