items for recycling

Confused about recycling? A new study says you’re not alone!

18th Dec, 2018

Waste processing has been big news throughout 2018, with more headlines than ever pointing to its impact on our planet and environment. As a positive side-effect, more and more people are turning to recycling to try and slow down the development of the issue. However, this is uncovering an even bigger immediate problem; many people just don’t understand how to recycle. There are lots of items which don’t fit neatly into the existing categories of paper, cardboard and glass, such as greaseproof paper and plastic food trays.

Sustainability is a major concern of ours here at Skip Hire Network, and we recycle as much as we humanly can from your waste every time you hire a skip from us. Recently, a new study from Beyond the Box has offered a greater insight into the problem many people have with understanding recycling. The results say we’ve still got a long way to go!

Key statistics from the study

You may not have heard of Beyond the Box before. Essentially, it’s a campaign that’s been established to raise awareness of the positive environmental credentials of cardboard packaging. They conducted a survey of 2000 British adults a few months ago, and one of their key findings was that over 50% of adults say they’re so confused that they regularly throw recyclable materials in for landfill rather than the designated recycling boxes.


Amongst the other findings:

  • 86% of adults think they’re good at recycling. However –
  • 53% think it’s easier to throw something in the bin rather than work out whether it could have been recycled
  • 57% have knowingly thrown something in the bin when it could have been recycled

As you can imagine, it’s these last two stats which are especially concerning to many campaigners! When questioned further about why they threw these items away, the responses varied.

  • 25% said they didn’t know how to go about recycling it
  • 29% said it was too much effort to dispose of it properly
  • 20% said it was a product which isn’t widely recycled in their local area

This last reason can be frustrating for residents as well as councils, as many obviously won’t make the trip to neighbouring areas to dispose of individual items of waste. There’s certainly work to be done when it comes to improving the disposal infrastructure in the UK, as well as educating the public. It’s the items made of hybrid materials that seem to be the most confusing; the common crisp packet being just one! A third of respondents said that they didn’t know what to do with those, whereas one in four aren’t sure whether cardboard drinks cartons can be recycled.

crisp packet

Is there any good news?

It’s true that the study can make for some grim reading from the outset, as it’s clear that a massive number of recyclable items are being sent to landfill. However, Beyond the Box does highlight some positive aspects. At least 59% of Britons think we generate too much waste, and two thirds admit to being worried about packaging. This does suggest an increasing amount of concern from the British public, which hopefully should translate into more meaningful change. What’s more, the UK’s sustainable packaging of choice, corrugated cardboard, has a recycling rate of over 80%. That means an amount that’s large enough to cover the size of Greater London is saved from landfill every four months.

What can we do to encourage more change?

It’s a good place to start, but there’s still more we can do! Since residential and commercial waste are two key aspects of our business here at Skip Hire Network, trust us when we say that there’s still action we can all take on an individual level, too. (To start with, it only takes a few seconds to Google whether or not an item can be recycled!)

recycling symbol

And of course, consumers can speak volumes through their choice of businesses and services. Plastic straws are one excellent example, as many businesses across the UK have already started to phase them out in favour of more sustainable cardboard options. It’s just one instance of the public demanding change through their consumer choices, and businesses listening. Many are already starting similar initiatives by boycotting foods and meals with excessive plastic packaging, or making their concerns known to the manufacturers and service providers.

Here at Skip Hire Network, we try and be ahead of the curve in that respect. Every time you hire a skip from us, whether it’s for commercial or domestic waste, we make sure to recycle as much of it as we possibly can, using on site facilities and trained staff. It’s just one of the many reasons to choose Skip Hire Network – you can click here to find out more, or simply enter your postcode into the fields above for an instant quote on local skip hire!