Confusion prevents one in three UK consumers from recycling bathroom product waste

By Austyn King | Published: 16-Oct-2023

Clearer instructions about how to recycle products could encourage consumers to be more eco-friendly, found the latest survey by Nivea

Confusion about how to recycle bathroom product waste is preventing consumers from recycling their packaging, according to the latest survey by Nivea.

One in three (33%) British consumers said that confusion about which products can be recycled prevents them from recycling their bathroom products, while almost one in four (22%) said they are “afraid” of putting the wrong products in the recycling bin.

This was particularly the case with lids, caps and additional packaging outside the bottles themselves, with 39% of respondents saying they would like to know more about whether these products can be recycled, and how best to dispose of them.

Despite the uncertainty, the Beiersdorf-owned skin care brand found that almost half (49%) of respondents said they always recycle their bathroom products, while 28% said they did often and 15% said sometimes.

Meanwhile, 39% said that clearer instructions on packaging would encourage them to recycle their bathroom waste more.

“While it’s clear that Brits are giving recycling their best shot, the survey shows that there is real confusion about how to correctly recycle bathroom waste,” said Alison Sammons, Brand Communications Manager at Nivea.

“Many people are also worried about making mistakes when they’re recycling and the risk of putting products in the wrong bin." 

Clear instructions and labelling on packaging are some methods brands can use to educate consumers on recycling products, added Sammons. 

However, more education around packaging symbols may be necessary, with a quarter of consumers (27%) saying they did not recognise the ‘widely recycled’ symbol.

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Gen Z were found to be lagging behind in their recycling habits, with just 34% of 18-34-year-olds saying that they always recycle their bathroom products, compared to 66% of consumers aged over 55 and 42% of those aged 35-54.

In an effort to tackle this uncertainty, Nivea has teamed up with sustainability focused influencers including pro surfer and brand ambassador Lucy Campbell to educate consumers on how to recycle their bathroom products.

These include tips such as keeping a separate recycling bin in their bathroom, as well as educating consumers on the different recycling symbols and which products can and cannot be recycled.

The campaign is part of Nivea’s ongoing sustainability drive including its Plastic Pledge, which aims to ensure that 100% of the brand’s products are housed in refillable, reusable, or recyclable packaging by 2025.

Parent company Beiersdorf is also a founding member of Cosmetics Europe’s Commit for Our Planet sustainability initiative, alongside beauty giants L’Oréal, Coty and Unilever.

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