Recycling: An unresolved challenge – Part 2

Previously we spoke about the important role that Local Authorities play in ensuring recycling is easier and more accessible to consumers.

In this article we will focus on the role manufacturers have in helping consumers overcome their barriers to recycling.

Manufacturers: Focus on materials and disposal messaging

1) Avoid mixed material packaging

Consumers are generally confident when it comes to whether a material is recyclable or not (and they are often looking for products in recyclable packaging). However, this confidence decreases when they are handling packaging made from mixed materials. In fact, three-quarters of consumers agree that packaging made of a mixture of materials makes it hard to recycle.

Of course there is the solution that consumers can break up packaging so different materials are put in the relevant bins, but this goes against the point of making recycling as easy and accessible as possible. Consumers need it to be quick and simple, in order to encourage more effective and frequent recycling.

2) Make it clear on pack how to dispose of the packaging

Consumers genuinely care and want to recycle properly. Two-thirds of consumers usually read the packaging so they know how to dispose of it, emphasising the need for clear on-pack communication.

However, three-quarters also feel that brands need to make it clearer on pack how to dispose of the packaging. Beauty and cosmetics brands are deemed the worst for this and most in need of improving their messaging.

3) Increase use of recyclable packaging

Consumers are highly aware of the packaging that products come in, and are increasingly looking for packaging that is recyclable. This is especially so amongst the 25-34 age cohort.

Brands need to continue looking at the materials they use, to ensure they are recyclable and more importantly align with what local councils can actually recycle.

Could collaboration be the key to success?

It certainly feels that way. Through a more collaborative approach, manufacturers and Local Authorities could communicate a more consistent message to consumers, while also optimising the infrastructure, processes, packaging and messaging to maximise recycling rates.

To find out more about our Great Green Sustainability Study or how we can help you with sustainability research, contact Tom Gould, Head of Consumer, on

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