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Survey reveals recycling difficulties

But there are ways to be more eco-friendly

What you can’t recycle
Packaging Type of material Percentage of members who could not recycle or didn’t know they could recycle
A picture of packaging which can be recycled Plastic packaging 76%
Drink cartons 70%
Food waste 64%
Plastic bottles 44%
Cardboard 43%
Glass 44%
Cans/tins 23%
Paper 14%

Table notes

We asked 2,667 Which? members what they found difficult to recycle

Nearly 70 per cent of Which? members are unable to recycle plastic packaging via doorstep collection, according to our latest survey.

Other common materials that people are unable to recycle – or do not know if they can recycle – via doorstep collection include drink cartons (70 per cent), food waste (64 per cent), glass and plastic bottles (both 44 per cent).

With many councils switching to fortnightly rubbish collections, we believe that people who are unable to recycle a range of waste on their doorstep should complain to their council.

One dustcart produces far fewer carbon emissions than multiple cars going to recycling tips.

Green tips

But there are ways that going green can be easy and can even save people money. These include:

  • planning shopping – this can reduce food waste by up to £400 a year
  • insulating walls and the loft cuts CO2 emissions by 40 per cent and can save £250 a year on heating bills
  • switching off appliances when not in use can save £37 a year and using energy-saving lightbulbs can save £9 a year
  • switchwithwhich.co.uk says that switching to a green electricity tariff can cut the average bill by almost £35 a year; turning the thermostat down by a degree can save £40 a year on gas bills.

Green options can be less practical than flying when travelling longer distances but 60 per cent of the 2677 we surveyed said they would consider carbon offsetting flights in the future.

Climate change

Which? Editor Neil Fowler said: ‘Recycling is a cornerstone in the fight against climate change, but councils need to do more to make it as easy as possible to recycle on our doorsteps – or the net effect will be drastically reduced as people either get in their cars to drive to their local tip or don’t recycle at all.

‘There are lots of easy, practical steps we can all take to reduce our impact on the environment – like shopping smarter or being more energy efficient – and the good news is that as well as helping the environment, many help our bank balances too.’


Travel comparison
Journey details A Ford focus A coach A plane A train
7 hours 1 min 8 to 11 hours 1 hour 22 min 5 hours 20min
Cost of cheapest return journey £81 £45 £75.34 £144
C02 emissions 110.8 kg 18.4 kg 192.8 kg 23.8 kg

Table notes

Car assumed to be doing 43 miles to the gallon. Prices obtained between November and December 2006 but Holiday Which? CO2 figures obtained from the government and are quoted in kilograms.

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