Post-lockdown Brits say they long to be more sustainable but litter in public rubbishes results
- Around two in five adults (38%) say recycling has been more important to them during lockdown, and three in ten (27%) plan to prioritise recycling once lockdown is over
- Yet, a quarter of us (24%) have witnessed littering in public during lockdown
- 16% of adults say they have purchased more packaged fruit and vegetables as they are worried about germs on loose items
- Sustainability campaign Beyond the Box urges Britons to recycle or else face losing up to 500,000 tonnes of cardboard to landfill
Eco-conscious Brits say time in lockdown has made them rethink their priorities and commit to a more sustainable lifestyle despite contradictory figures suggesting rubbish in public spaces is on the up.
According to new research, around two in five adults (38%) say recycling has been more important to them during lockdown, and three in ten (27%) plan to prioritise recycling once lockdown is over. A further third of adults (30%) say they plan to reduce food waste, one in five (22%) commit to slashing their plastic usage and 15% even pledge to travel less.
Though the study, commissioned by cardboard campaign group, Beyond the Box, shows that despite our best efforts, some individuals are making a mess of things, with a quarter of us (24%) witnessing rubbish being left in public, where people were sitting.
A conscientious 7% have picked up other people’s rubbish, yet, 14% have stood idly by, more worried about picking up germs off the resulting wrappers.
On a broader scale, dumping rubbish appears to be an increasing issue, as figures from The Countryside Alliance suggest there has been a 300% rise in fly-tipping in some areas.
Beyond the Box spokesperson, Andy Barnetson says: “The general public’s ambition to improve our national recycling rate is encouraging, though it’s important that we continue to do what we can to make that a reality – particularly when recycled materials play a vital role in our recovery system. Recycled paper fibres are essential if we want to create more useful materials like cardboard further down the line.”
Changing shopping habits and more time spent at home has sparked a surge in online shopping orders, with data suggesting e-commerce is up 27% year on year. This is mirrored by the one in five (20%) who say they have placed more online shopping orders as a result of lockdown, and coincidentally, over a quarter (26%) say they have more weekly household waste now compared with before the beginning of March. .
At the same time, almost one in five adults (18%) say that recycling collections have been less frequent during lockdown, likely causing an influx of packaging left in the household. The result being that one in five parents (21%) say they have reused excess packaging around the house, in order to keep the kids entertained. This includes reusing cardboard to paint on or create sculptures for almost half (49%) and reusing cardboard to create fort (for 41%).
Barnetson continues: “It’s encouraging to see the inventive ways that households have used cardboard – to entertain their family and keep it in the home, particularly if collections were not available. It is imperative that cardboard continues to be recycled, rather than disposed of in general waste, so the paper fibres used to create the cardboard can go on to be used again and again.
“If every adult in the UK were to throw one cardboard box into the rubbish, rather than recycling, 25 thousand tonnes of cardboard could be lost to landfill. That’s the equivalent weight of about two thousand double decker buses, or enough cardboard boxes to line up from here to Australia, and back.”
“The good news is that anecdotal evidence from local authorities indicates that the quantity of paper and cardboard received by local recycling collections has been up substantially, which is likely to be a result of spending all our time at home, along with amount of online shopping orders we have been racking up.”
Despite many people leaving the house less often as a result of lockdown, around 15% of adults say they have done the food shopping more regularly – with a third (34%) preferring to shop in person.
Germ contamination has been a concern on our everyday items, as 16% of adults say they have purchased more packaged fruit and vegetables as they are worried about germs on loose items. This contrasts to a similar number of respondents (18%) who say the opposite – that they have purchased more loose produce due to concerns around germs on packaging.
About Beyond the Box
Bringing together experts from leading UK packaging companies, Beyond the Box, launched by the Confederation of Paper Industries, helps Britons learn more about the nation’s sustainable packaging choice: Cardboard. Visit Cardboard.org.uk for more information.