Germans and Italians are brilliant at it, men are more aware of it than women, and those in their 50s are doing it more often than 18–29-year-olds – at least according to Friends of Glass’ latest research into European attitudes to glass recycling.
The new survey into the recycling habits of 8,000 Europeans in 11 different countries found that variations in the rate of recycling for glass packaging – as well as awareness of glass’ reusable credentials – were as much a result of age and gender as it was nationality.
94% of European consumers are aware of the importance of recycling food and drink packaging, Friends of Glass said, though the younger generation were generally less informed recyclers of glass.
The survey found that just over half of 18–29-year-olds in the UK knew that glass could be recycled infinitely, compared with 77% of 50–59-year-olds. More than 96% of younger Britons claimed to recycle but only 31.4% thought that glass was the most environmentally friendly food and drink packaging material. Friends of Glass claimed that the survey confirmed that, across Europe, those aged 60 or older were generally more aware of the importance of packaging’s recyclability than those between the ages of 18 and 29.
On average, consumers in most of the countries surveyed recycled between six and 20 glass items every month. Self-assessed rates were highest in Switzerland, where over 99% of people claim to recycle glass on a regular basis. They are followed by consumers in Germany (88.6%), Spain (77%) and France (74%).
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 – where almost 5% more men recycle than women (68.8% compared to 64%) – as well as in Germany and the Czech Republic. In Slovakia and Croatia, there is a lower awareness about the recycling benefits of glass among both genders, while Swiss men and women are both recycling at a rate above 90%.
Friends of Glass UK’s Rebecca Cocking said: “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
“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”.
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