Public reveal their innermost waste worries

Demand for new and easier ways to recycle is growing as research suggests that waste is a now a major concern for the British public.

Consumers want to see greater reductions in packaging and more activity centred around upcycling where used items are turned into new products. Food waste is also cited as a top bugbear and the public mood indicates that growing local produce could help overcome this.

According to the study from Nesta, nearly three quarters (73%) of respondents said they were worried about the amount of waste the UK is producing every year. Currently, of the 290m tonnes generated, only 115m tonnes is recycled.

One barrier to higher participation rates is that people seem to be unsure where to start in leading a greener lifestyle – 42% of respondents felt this was preventing them from putting an idea into action.

The study found that young people (16-24 year olds) were the group least likely to know what to do about waste, yet most likely to volunteer for community projects. This would suggest that more outreach work is required to educate them on the issue.

To encourage new thinking on waste reduction, Nesta, the UK’s innovation foundation, together with the Cabinet Office, has launched the Waste Reduction Challenge. This will reward novel ideas which aim to reduce, reuse or recycle waste by engaging communities in giving their time, skills and resources.

The aim of the prize is to place solutions in the hands of local communities. The idea that proves most effective at reducing waste, and has the potential to be even more effective in the future, will be awarded £50,000.

Maxine Perella

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