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Recycling: it’s a generation game

New survey highlights that when it comes to recycling knowledge, age matters
Recycling: it's a generation game

The Germans are brilliant at it and so are the Italians. The French and Spanish know more about it than most and the Swiss are naturally top of the class. And the British? We’re getting there, but could do better. But a new survey has revealed that when it comes to awareness about recyclability of materials, it’s not so much our nationalities that divide us, but our age.

Infinitely recyclable

The survey into the recycling habits of 8,000 Europeans in 11 countries by the Friends of Glass community has shown that recycling across Europe continues to enjoy strong support, with awareness about glass recyclability particularly high.

However, while 94% of European consumers are aware of the importance of recycling food and drink packaging, the younger generation in general are less informed recyclers.

For example, the survey found that only just over 50% of 18 to 29-year-olds in the UK knew that glass could be recycled infinitely compared with 77% of 50 to 59-year-olds. An impressive 96.4% of the younger Britons claimed to recycle but only 31.4% thought that glass was the most environmentally friendly food and drink packaging material.

‘While it’s encouraging to see so many Millennials taking the trouble to recycle, it’s a concern that their awareness that glass can be recycled an infinite number of times isn’t higher. Obviously more work needs to be done to highlight the brilliant sustainable properties of glass and why it remains an important food and drink packaging material today and for the future.’

Friends of Glass UK

The survey confirmed that across Europe, the 60+ age group is generally more aware of the importance of environmental benefits of recycling food and drink packaging than those between 18 and 29.

Endless lives

The survey also took gender differences into consideration. Women are generally less aware of the sustainable properties of glass than men. This was especially prevalent in the survey findings for participants in the UK (68.8% vs 64%), Germany and the Czech Republic.

In Slovakia and Croatia, there is a lower awareness about the recycling benefits of glass among both genders. In Switzerland, both men and women recycle at a rate of above 90%.

‘One of the great benefits of glass is just how easy it is to recycle. There has been some recent misinformation in the news about how you must wash out jars and bottles thoroughly before recycling. This isn’t necessary – a quick rinse if possible is preferable but not essential and you can pop the lids and tops back on too. These will be dealt with as part of the recycling process. We’re keen that all ages understand that glass really is a wonderful, never-ending resource with endless lives that we can all benefit from over and over again.’

Friends of Glass UK

In 9 out of the 11 countries surveyed, people on average recycle 6-20 glass items in a month. In Switzerland, almost all people claim to recycle glass (99.6%), followed by Germany (88.6%). France (74%) and Spain (77%) are the countries with the highest rate of people who know that glass can be ‘infinitely’ recycled into new bottles and jars – the figure for the UK is 66.3%.

Click here to find out more about Friends of Glass.

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