The most widespread reason why millennials recycle so rarely is their lack of knowledge. So it follows that information needs to be provided. Photo: fu zhichao, pexels.com
Millennials not keen on recycling
Contrary to widespread belief, a recent poll has shown that millennials aren’t all that keen on recycling. Still, they’re quite environment-conscious, and they’re prepared to dig a bit deeper into their pockets for sustainably manufactured products.
If anyone thinks the younger generation are better at recycling than older people, they’re mistaken. This at least is the result of a joint study conducted by the internationally operating company Serco’s Environmental Services and their UK research partner Future Thinking. In this survey, the 3,000 respondents were divided into four groups:
The generation that clearly emerged as the winners in this survey were the 55-74-year-olds.
The recycling champions among the various generations are the 55-74-year-olds. Photo: Elderly woman buying groats. File: #139808384 | author: JackF / https://de.fotolia.com/id/139808384?by=serie#
Why is recycling so difficult?
According to the survey, less than fifty per cent of all millennials (also known as Generation Y and Generation Me) recycle items where this would be possible. On the other hand, willingness to recycle is
as high as 70 per cent among 35-75-year-olds,
81 per cent, among over-75s,
83 per cent among those born between 1943 and 1962.
When millennials were asked to give reasons, they mentioned
lack of knowledge about things that can be recycled (16 per cent),
recycling waste collections not being frequent enough (12 per cent),
and lack of required waste bags (11 per cent).
In addition, four per cent admit that they are just not interested in recycling, for instance, paper or aluminium tins, seven per cent feel it’s too time-consuming, and five per cent believe that everything ultimately gets mixed up and ends up on the same rubbish dump anyway
A challenge for green companies
However, millennials still feel that the environment is important: 76 per cent say they are concerned about climate change – primarily because they fear restrictions to their own living standards (82 per cent), though also because they are worried about their children’s future (51 per cent). Instead of conducting their own recycling, they feel that the responsibility is in the hands of large enterprises. As they see it, a company can achieve more than themselves as individuals. Nearly three quarters of all respondents are prepared to pay more for products from companies with sustainable environmental policies.
The “Generation Y” has a high level of identification with the packaging. They associate a slim package with a good figure. File: #144643576 | author: rh2010/https://de.fotolia.com/id/144643576#
Making recycling palatable
Experts from the packaging and recycling industries therefore want to develop more strategies to make the recycling of packaging attractive to the social media generation and suitable for their lifestyles which can often be extremely busy. The development of innovative packaging solutions is to be facilitated further by feedback from retailers.
Another trend that has been identified in a study by the market research company Mintel is that 94 per cent of all consumers in the US snack between meals at least once a day. This is a further element that impacts the demand for and requirements on packaging. However, as well as functional aspects, such as handling simplicity, especially while on the go, customers would also like to see a unique design wherever possible. After all, food photos are often shared on social media channels.
Moreover, the Generation Y expects a high level of identification with packaging. A slim packaging design reminds them of a good figure, and words such as “relaxing” and “invigorating” automatically make them feel better about life. So the use of suitable keywords and targeted interaction about recycling can increase people’s willingness to recycle packaging.