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Recycling confusion: people in Essex call for clearer recycling rules

19 Sep Recycling confusion: people in Essex call for clearer recycling rules

We are more committed than ever to saving our planet, with people trying to cut down on plastic usage and recycling everything in sight.

However, there is still a high level of confusion on what can, or can’t, be recycled. And this has led to more than half (52%) of adults in the East of England calling for clearer rules on recycling. That’s according to new research by, which reveals more than half (52%) of people in the region don’t recycle properly because they’re confused by the rules in their area. The research comes as new Freedom of Information data shows 47% of wastage was recycled by councils in the region last year, on average.

But the research shows that people want to recycle and are giving it their best shot. In fact, almost a third (31%) of adults in the East of England will improvise, despite not fully understanding the rules. Nearly one in five (18%) will also try their best to follow the rules, even though they’re confused.

However, initiatives have been implemented to encourage people to recycle in and out of the home. For example, councils might offer explainer-style postcards or newsletters to update people on the rules in the area. Or they might arrange a local talk to get the community involved.

But there are also measures in place to stop people from recycling incorrectly. According to Freedom of Information gathered from UK councils(1), 29% of councils in the region have employees who will snoop through bins to find anything that’s contaminated or wrongly recycled. And in which case, almost all of councils will refuse to collect the waste.

By having these measures in place, councils should be able to recycle a high majority of waste. In fact,’s League Table reveals Three Rivers District Council has an impressive recycling rate of 63% – the highest in the region.

However, research shows that very few people don’t recycle at all, which raises the question of why some councils aren’t meeting recycling targets. And it seems much of the confusion comes down to certain items, such as black plastic, tin foil, and even receipts. To clear up this confusion, has taken the top 10 items people are most baffled about and simplified the rules. Polystyrene topped the list, which is in fact not recyclable. But according to the research, more than half (57%) of people across the UK will put it in with the recycling.