October 26, 2020

Seven in 10 adults still aren’t sure which household items are recyclable, study finds

Seven in 10 adults still aren’t sure which household items are recyclable, study finds

SEVEN in 10 adults still aren’t sure which household items are or aren’t recyclable, according to a study.

Researchers who polled 2,000 adults found almost three quarters find the recycling symbols located on the packaging of many household goods to be confusing.

Almost three quarters of adults find the recycling symbols on packaging confusing


Almost three quarters of adults find the recycling symbols on packaging confusingCredit: Getty – Contributor

A staggering 86 per cent also think councils should be clearer about what can or can’t be recycled.

Commissioned by Cushelle, the research also found 83 per cent think local authorities should make more effort to recycle a wider range of household items.

The findings emerged after TV presenter Ben Fogle teamed-up with the brand for the launch of its sustainable Double Roll toilet tissue – which comes in packaging made from 85 per cent recycled and renewable materials.  

They challenged an ordinary family to organise their rubbish into two bins – recyclable and non-recyclable.

The Corrodus family, from Bromley, Kent, took part in a 24-hour ‘bin-cam’ experiment and much like the rest of the country, were baffled about which household items could be recycled.

Mum, Michelle, aged 43, said: “As a family we’re ‘all hands on deck’ when it comes to recycling.”

And prior to finding out how they’d done, daughter, Malikah, aged 18, said: “I think we’ll do really well.”

The family enjoyed a promising start to the challenge, although there was confusion over whether the likes of toilet tissue packaging, sun cream pumps and milk cartons were recyclable.


  • Visit your local council website and search for ‘bins and waste’ to find out what is and isn’t recyclable in your area.
  • Print the council guidelines and put them near the bin for the whole family to see.
  • Check out your local supermarkets and Google nearby ‘recycling centres’ as they are able to deal with items that can’t be collected by your council.
  • Keep a small recycling bin in your bathroom to ensure recyclable items aren’t just thrown away – consider separate bins for these too.

And this proved to be their undoing, as they learnt that 96 per cent of the items thrown away in their regular bin could have been recycled.

On receiving the results, Michelle added: “It was really complex – we weren’t sure”.

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The study also found 95 per cent of adults agree recycling is important, but the general uncertainty over what can or can’t be recycled is having an impact on recycling levels.

A fifth admitted to having a lackadaisical approach to recycling, with confusion over what can be recycled the biggest reason for this.

However, 45 per cent have knowingly put recyclables in the general waste bin because they couldn’t be bothered to give certain objects a rinse.

The Cushelle study carried out through OnePoll also found, of all the everyday household products found in the typical home, those located in the bathroom are least likely to make it to the recycling bin.

Ben Fogle said: “Doing your bit to reduce your waste levels is admirable, but if most of us are not sure about the recycling rules, then how much of a difference are we actually making?

“It’s not surprising that the Corrodus family were unsure about so many items – every single council in the UK has their own set of unique rules, which is why it’s absolutely imperative that we all do our own research.

“Cushelle is helping families reduce their waste levels by launching its new Double Roll and conducting this recycling research, but it’s crucial that we all do our own bit as individuals to really make a difference.”

You can read more about Cushelle’s sustainability strategy here.

Video on the journey of a plastic bottle being recycled