Greasy pizza boxes and used kitchen roll don’t belong in recycling, Brits warned

Survey shows people are ‘more environmentally aware’ - but rubbish at selecting items for recycling

Local authorities, council, bins
Rubbish collections are likely to be reduced in bid to save money
(Image credit: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Eco-conscious Britons are doing “more harm than good” by putting out bins of unusable contaminated recycling, a new study has found.

Of 2,000 people who took part in a survey about recycling, not one got full marks when quizzed about which household items qualify, with “many making mistakes that could result in entire bags of recycling being rejected and sent to landfill”, Sky News reports.

A total of 44% of respondents admitted putting soap pump dispenser tops in their recycling bins: in fact, the tops should be removed from the soap bottle and discarded separately. Dirty kitchen roll was incorrectly put out for recycling by 34%, while more than 20% wrongly believed you can recycle disposable coffee cups, plastic bags and greasy pizza boxes.

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Conversely, just over half of the people who answered the poll were not aware that empty deodorant aerosols and hairspray cans are fit for recycling, along with the plastic caps that accompany them.

And two-thirds thought that aluminium foil and foil trays could not be recycled - which is also incorrect, provided the foil is reasonably clean.

Paradoxically, the study found that Brits are “more aware of the need to recycle than ever before”, with 80% of respondents agreeing that recycling benefits the environment.

The poll also show that millennials, “often portrayed as environmentally conscious”, are actually less inclined to recycle than older generations, says The Guardian.

Ivvet Modinou, head of engagement at the British Science Association, which commissioned the research, said: “It’s encouraging to see lots of people are concerned about plastic waste. But what you can and can’t put in the recycle bin can often be confusing.

“The industry as a whole needs to address this issue if we are to collectively improve recycling performance. For instance, manufacturers of plastic products could provide clearer information on packaging, and local councils should be actively working to improve guidance for local residents.”

In 2016, British households generated more than 27 million tonnes of waste, of which just over 45% was recycled, according to the latest government figures.

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