Overwhelming public support for government action on unrecyclable packaging

5 November 2018

Truck on top of rubbish dump

A survey conducted by Cardiff University shows three quarters of people want the government to ensure products are recyclable and repairable, and almost 90 percent want all packaging to be recyclable.

This is further evidence of the public’s increasing concern about waste, just as the government is preparing its first resources and waste strategy in more than a decade.

The survey, conducted by Cardiff University as part of a project for the Centre for Industrial Materials, Energy and Products (CIEMAP), is published with the think tank Green Alliance.

CIEMAP’s research shows that the most popular policies, which lead to better product and packaging design and longer lasting products, are also the ones that cut the most carbon emissions.

Redesigning products to use less material and reducing packaging could cut the emissions associated with commonly used household products by nearly 20 per cent. These savings would rise to nearly 40 per cent if products were also made to last longer and could be shared via schemes like car clubs or London’s Library of Things.

Key survey findings:

  • Nearly 90 per cent of people (87 per cent) believe there is a strong or very strong need to shift to a society that uses resources more efficiently. Only 0.4 per cent believe there is no need at all
  • Two thirds (65 per cent) of people are frustrated by products that do not last
  • Three quarters (75 per cent) believe the government should be responsible for ensuring that businesses produce repairable and recyclable products
  • 89 per cent believe all packaging should be made of recyclable materials
  • 81 per cent believe businesses should be required to provide repair, maintenance or disposal support for their products

Chris Stark, Chief Executive of the Committee on Climate Change, said: “The UK has shown that it's possible to cut carbon emissions whilst growing its economy. But the recent IPCC report on global warming of 1.5 degrees demonstrates that we need new approaches to tackle climate change and reach net zero. Resource efficiency offers government just such a new way to cut carbon, and this report shows that policy makers have a public mandate to get on with the job."

Professor Nick Pidgeon, from Cardiff University, who led the team conducting the research, said: “We were surprised by the level of agreement from the many people we surveyed and talked to in our workshops. It was overwhelmingly clear that people aren’t satisfied and want to see change. They really care about this. They want higher quality products and less waste. Improving resource efficiency is an easy win for both the public and the environment.”