Research shows consumers’ understanding of plastic film recycling has a long way to go

bpi protec, a company of Berry Global, has released the detailed findings of a study to identify consumers’ understanding regarding the recyclability of plastic films.

The major quantitative research asked over 1,000 UK consumers their opinion on a variety of questions in relation to plastic film recycling, with the full results revealed at the Environmental Packaging Summit on 16th July and in bpi protec’s latest White Paper.1

Of the more than 1,000 consumers who took part in the research, only 50% said they were aware that plastic films can be recycled. However, an overwhelming majority of respondents, 93%, said they would like to be able to recycle plastic films more easily.

The survey also suggests that the type of packaging used by brands may impact on a consumer’s purchasing decision with over half of respondents saying that they would choose to buy a product whose packaging was recyclable or contained recycled content above one that didn’t.

At the same time, consumers also need much more help in understanding where films can actually be recycled. Just over 45% said they believed plastic films can be recycled within their kerbside collection and 47% at their council recycling centre, whereas only one in 10 local authorities actually recycle plastic film and only 18% recycle carrier bags.

The survey also identified that many consumers are confused about which plastic films can and cannot be recycled and this extends to their understanding of the recycling symbols printed on plastic packaging. Only 37% of the survey reported that they are clear what the symbols mean, with 17% always checking packaging for them, whereas 53% were confused by them.

“As a manufacturer of plain and printed flexible packaging, providing innovative and environmentally sustainable packaging for global brand owners in the food, drink and specialist sectors, we wanted to find out more about consumers’ understanding of the recyclability of plastic films,” says Gareth Lloyd, Marketing Manager at bpi protec.

“Our research has shown that there is still plenty to do. Consumers want to recycle plastic film packaging more easily and will make purchasing decisions based on the recycled content and sustainability of the pack. Improvements are therefore needed to help ensure this, in particular better education and delivering an improved infrastructure for filmic recycling.”

Note: 1 bpi protec commissioned an independent online survey of 1,000 UK consumers between the ages of 18 to 65 in Q1 2019 regarding their opinions on plastic recycling. Full results are available their White Paper entitled “It’s Not a Wrap! – The latest consumer insight shows our understanding of plastic film recycling has a long way to go.” and can be downloaded by clicking here.


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