A new study conducted on behalf of the Natural Source Waters Association (NSWA) claims that the term single-use plastic is ‘harmful’, as many consumers deem that packaging labelled as such can only be used once and can never be recycled.
According to the NSWA – which represents bottled water companies including Danone Waters, Nestlé Waters and Highland Spring – the survey conducted by Censuswide found that 46% of 2,004 respondents thought the term ‘single-use’ meant that all packaging described as single-use had to go to landfill or be incinerated, rather than recycled.
Indeed, 30% of respondents claimed that they were not aware that many plastic bottles were 100% recyclable.
While the term ‘single-use’ does apply to plastic products such as balloons, cotton buds and straws, the NSWA claims that PET drinks bottles should not be described in this manner, as they can be recycled and turned into new packaging material which can be used again.
This study follows further research published last week by waste disposal firm Veolia, which found that a third of UK consumers find recycling confusing and unclear. According to the study, only 8% of UK consumers ‘strongly believed’ that recycling labelling on products is clear and only 12% trust recycling labelling on products.
According to figures from Kantar Worldpanel, sales of bottled water products in the UK reached £558.4 million in 2018, an approximate 2.2 billion litres of bottled water. However, figures from the UK’s Environmental Audit Committee claim that only 59% of plastic bottles purchased in the UK are actually recycled.
The NSWA claims that new, ‘positive’ terminology needs to be adopted to ensure that plastic bottles are recycled and guarantee that bottled water producers can incorporate recycled plastic into their products.
Bryan McCluskey, circularity director at NSWA, said: “If we’re really going to improve recycling rates we all need to use clear, positive language.
“The term ‘single-use plastic’ is not helping people to do the right thing with their plastic bottles.
“Our members want to use recycled content and to meet this demand we need people to recycle their drinks bottles. We are working with the Scottish and UK Governments on the introduction of Deposit Return Systems.”
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