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  • Morag Nixon

"Should we care about plastics?"

Updated: Oct 5, 2021

In February 2021, the team of four students that have been bringing you the plastic blog series, created a public awareness and behaviours survey related to plastic waste. It was titled “Should we care about plastics?”. As we are the chemical and biological recycling of plastic theme; we were interested to learn about the public’s view on plastic waste.

We had read the findings report of a survey conducted by WRAP in 2018, it was related to plastic attitudes and behaviours and had some interesting results. This survey covered a range of topics within plastic waste and achieved a high response rate of over 3000 respondents. This survey is part of an annual series, WRAP produce a “Recycling Tracker Report” every year, they can be found using this link; Recycling Tracker Report 2020: Behaviours, attitudes and awareness around recycling | WRAP. This was such a good example and we used the WRAP survey structure and question style as a template for our survey.

The survey outlined a number of areas such as; demographics, concerns, responsibility, personal agency, current and future behaviours and a few others. This allowed us to gain an overall picture of the public’s views towards plastic waste. We created it using Google Forms and circulated among our personal social media accounts, the CDT social media accounts, via our academic supervisors and their contacts and within the University of Nottingham. Naturally due to the similarities in our personal characteristics the demographic was skewed in some areas. The survey ran for 3 months and gained nearly 650 respondents.

We have spent some time analysing the results since the survey closed in May and have reached some key findings.

  • Increased personal agency by taking actions such as buying loose produce and re-using packaging.

  • Primary plastic concerns have not changed significantly since the WRAP survey in 2018.

  • An increase in plastic waste recycling behaviours.

There were also some particularly interesting findings related to the under 25’s age group.

  • The under 25 respondents recycled 30% less common plastic items compared with other age groups.

  • This age group were more likely to adopt plastic reducing behaviours, such as buying second-hand clothing and reusing plastic bottles and bags.

If you would like to read more about the findings and our recommendations check out the links below to an infographic found in the facts and figures section of the website or alternatively check out our blog for the University of Nottingham’s website.

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