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The UK’s attitudes to sustainability in 2022

Meanwell Packaging has explored new survey data of 1000 adults revealing the UK’s attitudes to sustainability in 2022 according to age, gender and region.

The survey revealed that almost three-quarters (73%) of all respondents recycle to the best of their ability, however, 22% admitted that they do recycle, but could improve how they do it.

Additionally, it was revealed that only 2% answered that they don’t recycle but need to start and 3% don’t recycle at all and have no intention of doing so. This is a total of over 150,000 UK adults not recycling and not planning to do so.

The sustainable packaging company also found that the 18 to 24 age group are least likely to recycle to the best of their ability at 49%.

When they explored gender, women are more likely to recycle to the best of their ability at 75% compared to men at 71%.

The cities where people are most likely to recycle to the best of their abilities are Swansea, Coventry and Bristol. The top cities where people don’t recycle and have no intention of doing so are Oxford, Liverpool and Leeds.

When asked in the survey if respondents wash their items before recycling, 45% of people wash every item they recycle, 35% said they rinse the majority, 11% only wash some items and finally, 9% don’t at all.

The over 65 age demographic were the most likely to wash every item they recycle at 54%.

In the survey, the cities most likely to wash all items ahead of recycling were Belfast at 70%, Coventry at 67% and Oxford at 65%. On the other hand, the cities least likely to rinse any items were Worcester at 29%, Gloucester at 27% and Plymouth at 24%.

Respondents of the survey were also asked how often they check the packaging before recycling to ensure they are disposing of it correctly, 30% said they do this all the time, 40% answered often, 21% responded that they sometimes do, 7% said they rarely check and 3% answered that they never do.

Moreover, the survey found that almost half (48%) strongly agree that more could be done in regards to the sustainability of the UK and 34% somewhat agree.

The age demographic that was most strongly to agree that the UK could be more sustainable are those aged between 55 and 64 at 57%.

The survey also highlighted that women feel more strongly that the UK could be more sustainable at 52% than men at 45%.

The region of the UK that feels most strongly towards the statement that the UK could do more to be sustainable is the North West at 54%.

When exploring the new UK plastic packaging tax, 31% of respondents strongly support the new tax, while 33% somewhat do. Some 17% of people surveyed neither support nor oppose it, 6% strongly or somewhat oppose it and finally, 7% of people weren't sure.

Additionally, respondents of the survey were asked if they would be willing to pay more for items that have sustainable or environmentally friendly packaging, with 29% saying they were willing to pay one to 10% more, 12% were willing to pay 11 to 25% more, 10% were willing to pay 26 to 50% more, 5% were willing to pay 51 to 75% more and finally just 2% were willing to pay 79 to 99% more.

The cities most likely to be willing to pay an extra 76% to 99% for sustainable packaging were Oxford at 18% and London at 5%.

Company director Tjobbe Andrews said, ‘With all the advantages that sustainability has, such as protecting our ecosystem, we wanted to further explore the UK’s attitudes towards the topic.

‘After analysing the data, we were surprised to find that the 18 to 24 age group, which are traditionally viewed as the most environmentally conscious age demographic, were least likely to recycle to the best of their ability.

‘We hope our findings have further highlighted the views of the UK public and how these can differ vastly according to demographics such as age and gender.’