26th October 2020/in News /by Pedro Abreu

90% of people in the UK say that since the COVID-19 outbreak, it is more important than ever to take care of our planet and the environment, a European-wide study by Every Can Counts has found.

Almost all (92%) of the 1,500 UK respondents say that it is an urgent task to tackle recycling while 93% said that considering recycling and its importance for the planet is an obligation of all citizens and consumers, not just world leaders.

73% of Brits stated that during the pandemic they have recycled more than ever, suggesting that the increase in time spent at home has made it easier for people to do their bit and recycle more. Only 43% however, said they often or always recycle when at work and even less when out and about at 41%.

A lack of ‘on-the-go’ recycling facilities could contribute to this self-reported drop in recycling levels outside of the home, with 94% of UK respondents saying they would like to see more recycling bins in public spaces.

Commenting on the figures, Rick Hindley, Director of Every Can Counts says, “The figures imply that given the time and correct resources, we’re all more than capable of recycling everything we can. It’s when we’re out and about or at work that it becomes more difficult. The findings from the survey also suggest that COVID-19 has prompted us to consider our own fragility as human beings and look at the way we treat the planet, our home.”

“The COVID-19 outbreak has of course brought about devastating effects. However, as we can see from these survey results, one positive is that people are beginning to sit and up and take notice of the vital environmental issues we are facing. Recycling – and especially recycling drink cans given that aluminium is infinitely recyclable – is something we can all do to help the planet. Over the past five years, the UK recycling rate for drink cans has increased by 16% to an impressive 76%. Our vision is to get that to 100%.”

Brits echoed this call to action with 91% saying they would like to do more when it comes to recycling and a massive 82% feeling that more needs to be done in general to encourage recycling.

From a UK regional perspective, Covid-19 appears to have raised the importance of environmental issues amongst the Scots and East of England most with 95% saying it is now more important than ever to take care of the planet. It seems the South East have been the least affected at 84%. And, when it comes to economy versus environment, the East Midlands are more preoccupied with the nation’s finances with 71% agreeing that in these uncertain economic times, the economy is currently more important that the environment. Yorkshire & Humberside and the South West came out more environmentally concerned however, with just 48% saying the economy is a priority over the environment.

Of the 14 European countries surveyed, Romania, Hungary, Poland and Italy came up top trumps when quantifying the importance of recycling with scores of 90% plus. The UK came in 10th place with 78%, and Netherlands registered last with just 52% saying they think recycling is very or extremely important.  However, when looking at how recent global challenges have impacted upon attitudes, the UK is ranked up top along with Romania, Italy, Ireland and Greece, where 90% or more of those surveyed said that after COVID-19 it is more important than ever to take care of our planet and recycle.

The survey polled a sample size of 13,793 people older than 16 balanced for age and gender in 14 countries where Every Can Counts has a local initiative (Belgium, Serbia, Austria, Hungary, Greece, Romania, Poland, Czech Republic, Ireland, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, France) from August 5 to September 14, 2020.