- Data from a 2016 household plastics collection survey by RECycling of Used Plastics Limited (RECOUP) shows that out of more than 1.5 million metric tons of recyclable plastic packaging consumed by U.K. households, less than 500,000 metric tons were recycled, as reported by The Guardian.
- Within this overall category, 57% of plastic bottles were collected for recycling. Only 30% of "plastic pots, tubs and trays" were collected for recycling. Less than 3% of plastic film products such as grocery bags or packaging bags were collected.
- This variation in collection rates is due in part to collection options. While 98% of local authorities have options available for plastic bottle recycling, and 74% for pots, tubs and trays, only 20% offer plastic film recycling options.
Across all sectors, the U.K. recycled about 40% of its plastic packaging in 2015 putting it on par with broader statistics for the European Union. While a proposed circular economy package could lead the country to increase that rate, it's unclear when that will be adopted and whether the U.K. would still join in light of Brexit.
While these numbers may be better — though not directly comparable — than the latest U.S. data, many in the U.K. are still unhappy with the amount of waste not being captured. The Recycle Now campaign recently released data which said 44% of plastic bottles aren't being recycled in the U.K. and diverting coffee cups for recycling has also become a popular cause. Aside from a small fee on single-use plastic bags, which has led to a reduction in usage, no related ordinances have been proposed.
As is the case in the U.S., the need for additional consumer education has been receiving more attention. Various studies or stories have linked recycling contamination to confusion, distrust and even anger. Finding ways to not only make consumers aware about why they should recycle but also how they should do it remains a universal challenge for the industry.