• Nearly one in three of us admit we couldn’t care less about recycling when on holiday
  • For 11.8 million of us (18%), recycling is our last priority when it’s hot
  • The average person takes around two holidays per year, so there’s double the chance of recyclable materials, such as cardboard, ending up in landfill needlessly, warns cardboard campaign group, Beyond the Box

Environmentally-conscious Brits openly admit to binning their otherwise good recycling routines during the summer months, according to a new study of 2,000 adults.

In fact, 11.8 million Brits (18%) say that recycling falls to the very bottom of their priority lists when the sun starts shining, despite two thirds (69%) claiming that recycling is extremely important to them throughout the rest of the year, according to the new nationwide research commissioned by cardboard campaign group, Beyond the Box.

For, while the study shows that the average Brit now recycles more than half (54%) of their household waste in a typical year, it appears that commitment to our recycling routines dramatically wanes when holiday mode hits, with almost half of us (45%) admitting to recycling less during the summer months. Conversely, a stoic one in 20 (5%) are not only firmly committed to their routines, they actually claim to recycle more when on holiday.

The top reasons given for ditching our recycling habits include confusion over recycling rules when visiting other parts of the UK or journeying abroad – cited by more than half of respondents (57%) – whilst one in six (16%) are convinced that other countries just don’t take recycling seriously – so there’s simply no point.

“With the average person taking around two holidays per year, it is a real shame to consider that a sustainable and recyclable material like cardboard could be needlessly ending up in landfill due to bad holiday habits and poor recycling facilities on our travels; particularly when items like cardboard boxes can be recycled many times, allowing the paper fibres to be reused again and again,” explains Beyond the Box spokesperson, Andy Barnetson.

Recycling is a real bin-convenience

As well as recycling less on holiday, the Beyond the Box study also found that festivals and days out were among other times we are least likely to recycle. While simply being in the car causes Brits to abandon the sustainable habit.

When out and about, three out of 10 Brits (30%) admit to binning materials they know to be recyclable, whilst two out of 10 (21%) are more conscientious and bring them home to dispose of more sustainably. And, one in 10 (10%) well-meaning individuals are failing at the final hurdle, admitting to bringing recyclable materials home only to throw them away with the household rubbish.

Meanwhile, one in three of those surveyed (35%) complained about the lack of recycling facilities available when out and about , one in 7 (14%) said they find recycling bins too confusing and one in six (16%) said they simply can’t be bothered to keep hold of their recyclable materials until they find somewhere to recycle.

And one in six of all those surveyed (18%) admitted to abandoning a tent at the end of a festival, suggesting there will once again be a major clear up operation for festival organisers to tackle this summer.

As a result, Beyond the Box is urging Brits to go that extra mile this summer and make sure as much of their packaging, including all their cardboard, gets recycled.

Barnetson adds: “More than 80% of the cardboard we use in the UK is recycled, making it the most widely recycled type of packaging, but we know we can do even better than this. So whilst it is promising to see the effort some people are willing to go to recycle, it’s clear that there is still work to be done to ensure that we keep up our recycling routines all year round, whether we’re at home or away from our usual routine.”


Top holiday recyclers Source: Beyond the Box

Rank Region People most likely to go out of their way to recycle when on holiday (%)
1 Cardiff 45
2 London 40
3 Liverpool 37
4 Manchester 37
6 Brighton 37
6 Birmingham 36
National Average: 21%
7 Newcastle 35
8 Belfast 35
10 Southampton 33
10 Edinburgh 33

Summer occasions Brits are least likely to consider recycling Source: Beyond the Box

Rank Reason People least likely to consider recycling (%)
1 On holiday 23
2 At a festival 14
3 On a day trip / out and about 13
4 When in the car 10

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.

For more information, including spokesperson requests, please contact Rob Waldon or Sophie Menzies at Richmond & Towers Communications: robwaldon@rtc.london / sophie@rtc.london

020 7388 7421

1 Based on UK population of 66,040,200. 18% of 66,040,200 = 11,887,236 https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/populationestimates