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- Younger Generation Too Time Starved to Go the Extra Mile -
- Plastics 2020 Challenge Recycling Debate Launched -

GB’s older generation – those aged 55 or over - have demonstrated their commitment to recycling, with more than two-thirds (68%) saying that they would continue to recycle even if doorstep recycling was removed. The research commissioned by the Plastics 2020 Challenge to launch their online recycling debate was carried out online by YouGov and shows that its the 55 and overs who lead the way when it comes to saving the planet.

Barry Turner of the Plastics 2020 Challenge said:
“We can’t just rely on the older generation to get Britain’s recycling rates up. We need to ensure that better infrastructure is in place to make it as easy as possible for all kinds of householders, including those in high-density housing and student accommodation, to get involved. One council has already stopped kerbside collection of plastic bottles to reduce its council budget. This is worrying when the opposite is needed to reach Government recycling targets.

“We have found through this research that both the unemployed and those who are time-poor, such as larger families and working people, will find it hardest to continue if doorstep recycling systems are affected by lack of investment. These results show that, although many people want to recycle, they can easily become demotivated when faced with barriers – we need to work together with Government, our industry and the consumer to remove these obstructions.”

The research also showed that in most households it is women who take responsibility for the recycling, with more than three-quarters (77%) of households relying upon them to ensure it happens. Surprisingly, given recent emphasis on the environment in education curricula, the younger generation are less inclined to get involved in recycling with respondents stating that only 1% of children adopt any responsibility for the recycling in the home and young adults – those aged 18-24 -don’t fare much better with more than a quarter (28%) of this group unclear as to what their local council recycles.

Of more concern, if doorstep collection were to suffer from council budget cuts, more than one in three people (38%) surveyed who now actively participate, said they would either stop recycling altogether or don’t know if they would or wouldn’t. In addition, larger families would find it most difficult to recycle if it required to travel to do so – more than half of households (51%) with more than three children saying they would not continue to recycle or don’t know if they would or not if doorstep collection ended.

Barry continued:
“It is clear that life stage has a marked effect on how people recycle in the home. We were surprised to see that children and young people are not getting more involved. They need to look to their grandparents who are setting a great example by doing their bit to ensure a better future for the generations who follow.

“In launching our recycling debate online, we are asking the public and interested groups to start talking about how we can achieve realistic targets. The Plastics 2020 Challenge is calling for a widespread, open debate on how we can reach these targets through the “four R’s” – reduce, reuse, recycle and recover - including doubling the recycling rate of plastic packaging by the year 2020.”

The Recycling Debate launches at on Monday 29th March and features video contributions from a number of bodies involved in recycling in the UK including: Forum for the Future; Veolia; Plastics Europe; the Green Alliance; Closed Loop; Nampak; Peter Jones OBE; the Chartered Institution of Waste Management (CIWM); The British Retail Consortium and Cllr Paul Bettison, former LGA spokesperson on the Environment. It is hoped that the format will spark open debate and comment on all the issues involved in recycling.

- Ends -

Media Contacts:
For further press information please contact:
Helen Roache on 020 7259 1769 or 07769 143 577 (out of office hours) or
Karl Smyth on 020 7529 1717 or

Notes for Editors

The Survey

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov plc. Total sample size was 2223 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 17th - 19th March 2010. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

The Plastics 2020 Challenge

The Plastics 2020 Challenge was set up by the plastics industry in 2009 to work across the supply chain and with all levels of government, with the aim of doubling the rate of plastic packaging recycling by 2020.

The founding members are the British Plastics Federation, PlasticsEurope and the Packaging & Films Association. Together they represent 5,000 small, medium and large enterprises that employ approximately 186,000 people across the UK. The industry’s exports are worth £4.6 billion a year and the UK remains dominant in worldwide markets.

The Founding commitments of the Plastics 2020 Challenge relate to the 4 Rs of the waste hierarchy as follows:

Reduce wastage and environmental impact by continuous innovation of lightweight, high performance plastic materials and products.

Develop new solutions and designs to increase the reuse of plastic products.

Double plastic packaging recycling rate by 2020 through working in partnership with the whole value chain and all levels of government to facilitate and promote effective markets, technologies and infrastructure.

Support high efficiency energy from waste techniques for end-of-life plastics where recycling is not an option.

Full details can be viewed at

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