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Young People are the Worst Recycling Offenders

Young People are the Worst Recycling Offenders

Young People are the Worst Recycling Offenders

One of the biggest problems when it comes to recycling is that the contamination of waste prevents a lot of recyclable waste from actually being processed.

New data from a survey has shown that younger people aged 18-34 are the worst offenders when it comes to putting the wrong things in the recycling. More than 25% of survey respondents in this age group admitted to putting things in to the recycling and hoping that they were recyclable, rather than being completely sure.

Previous surveys back this up

A previous DEFRA survey found that over half of 16-24-year olds did not recycle at all, while over 82% of people over 65 regularly recycled.

The current survey

3,329 people across the UK were surveyed on their recycling habits, including 650 from Wales. Of the 18 to 34-year-olds surveyed:

  • 42% were not confident they were getting it right
  • 28% weren’t sure what they were putting in the recycling bin was recyclable
  • 19% admitted that they didn’t put much thought into what they were putting in the bin
  • 19% didn’t know what their local recycling guidelines were and didn’t check

Young People Do Not Recycle More

The situation in Wales

The research says that 42% of Welsh 18 to 34-year-olds want to recycle more, but they are not confident that they are getting it right.

Around 30% of people in this age group are not confident in their recycling capabilities, with 28% admitting they weren’t sure whether what they were putting in their recycling bin was recyclable.

The data is being released at an event called Festival no.6 in Portmeirion in Gwynedd, to try and raise awareness about recycling among younger people. The message is that if everyone who attended the festival recycled one can of dry shampoo or deodorant, it would save enough energy to power the lighting on the main festival stage for one week.

Why do young people not recycle more?

When surveyed, the most common reasons why people did not recycle more were:

  • Lack of time to sort recycling
  • Lack of inclination to recycle
  • Confusion about what was recyclable

What can be done?

To improve recycling rates among younger people, education programmes in schools are a good option. Teaching children about the importance of recycling when they are young might help form good habits for life. Organisations which work to achieve awareness among young people include:

The Young People’s Trust for the Environment is a charity which is geared towards improving young people’s awareness of the environment and sustainability. It provides learning materials for teachers, parents, and young people on environmental issues and what they can do at home and in their lives to benefit the planet.

The Young Greens carry this on into Universities, where they try to encourage more students to recycle. They run campaigns to raise awareness, set up recycling schemes, and lobby for recycling facilities to be installed in colleges and universities.

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