Consumers Underestimate The Great Recycling Rate Of Paper. Latest Study Reveals. (

Consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of their impact on the environment, and the majority of UK consumers believe the recycling rate of paper isn’t very high. This low consumer awareness is worrying when paper is, in fact, one of the most recycled materials in the world with a recycling rate of 74%.[1]

A study, conducted by the not-for-profit organisation Two Sides and independent research company Toluna, aims to understand changing consumer perceptions towards print and paper. This unique insight into consumer attitudes towards one of the world’s oldest and universally used materials, will be repeated biennially to monitor and report upon evolving consumer perceptions, as environmental awareness intensifies and alternative digital channels of communication become prevalent.

Paper is one of the world’s most recycled materials. In Europe 74% of paper, 56 million tonnes, was collected and recycled in 2020.[2] Paper Packaging has an even higher recycling rate of 85%.[3]

However, the study reveals 46% of UK consumers believe that paper and paper packaging is wasteful and highlights a real lack of understanding of the high recycling rates. Only 17% of UK consumers believe the recycling rate exceeds 60%. 15% think it is less than 20%, 34% between 20-39% and 34% between 40-59%. 18-24 year olds have the biggest misconception relating to recycling, with just 12% believing the recycling rate exceeds 60%.

Paper compares favourably to other recycling rates: Glass 74%, Metal 80%, Plastic 42% and Electronics 42%.[4]

As the research found that 66% of UK consumers believe only recycled paper should be used, it’s clear that most people understand the need for recycling paper and the fact that it’s sustainable. But, this also demonstrates a persistent myth that recycled paper is better for the environment.

Recycled paper (fibre) is an essential part of the fibre mix. In 2020, paper for recycling made up 56% of fibre used.[5] In Europe, on average, paper fibres are recycled 3.8 times[6] and, after several uses, the recycled fibres degrade. Virgin fibre, from sustainably managed forests, is therefore always required to maintain the paper cycle.
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