Rural Britain Leads the Recycling Revolution – But Could Do Better!

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Rural Britain leads the recycling revolution but could improve its uptake of green tech.

A poll of over 3,000 Brits (Institution of Engineering and Technology) found people living in villages and hamlets typically adopt more everyday green habits compared to those residing in cities and towns.  90% of rural dwellers recycle their plastic (versus 71% of urbanites), 56% recycle food waste (versus 44%) and 94% take their own bags to shops (versus 81%).  If we are to hit the Government’s net-zero target by 2050, other incentives need to come into play to enable consumers to transition to greener lifestyles.  According to the findings, rural regions also shoulder more environmental responsibility, with 63% believing it’s up to the individual to address climate change, compared to just 50% of those in urban areas.

However, when it comes to green tech, people in towns and cities take the lead, with 45% of residents having green energy tariffs, versus only 30% in rural areas. Urbanites tend to have a better understanding of and be more likely to have installed green technology in their homes.  Looking at the technology they knew about, compared to rural dwellers a greater number of urban respondents have solar panels (32% vs 9%), battery storage (41% vs 8%), smart technology/digital assistants (42% vs 17%), heat pumps (36% vs 6%), alternative gas heaters (37% vs 4%).

National and international recycling habits

A UK and worldwide wide survey of people’s views on recycling and a range of green topics gave the following interesting results.

~Recycling:  just 36% of Londoners recycle their food waste, compared to 86% in Northern Ireland and 80% in Wales and only 68% of Londoners recycle their plastic compared to 91% in Yorkshire and the South West

~Green consumption:  78% of Londoners take their own bags to shops but this rises to 95% in Wales and 94% in the South West.

~Green travel: Londoners lead the charge when it comes to electric vehicles with  35% of EV/Hybrid owners based in the capital, compared to just 1% in Wales and Northern Ireland, while about 49% of pure EV owners were based in London.

~Green Homes: East Midlanders tend to have the ‘greenest’ homes in the country, compared to the national average, with around half of those aware of the technology installing heat pumps (47%vs 19%), battery storage (49% Vs 23%), smart technology/digital assistances (45% Vs 29%) and four in ten with solar panels (38% Vs 18%).

It is interesting to see patterns in the way different areas and regions of the country have adopted environmental practices.  Cities have always been tipped as being more progressive, which is demonstrated by the fact that people living in urban areas are more likely to adopt green technologies. However, urbanites are less likely to embrace and put more physical day-to-day green habits into practice.

If we are to hit the Government’s net-zero target by 2050, other incentives need to come into play to enable consumers to transition to greener lifestyles.  The survey shows that the public know that change is needed and know what can be done – but they often require practical reasons to make that change.

Two of the biggest challenges we face – decarbonising heat and transport – will require changes to be made to our everyday lives and it is essential that people are engaged in the process and can see the benefits of green solutions so that we don’t leave anyone behind.

Global results: on a global basis the research showed contrasting adoptions of green habits across the world.  Americans fall behind overall in the study, with just 42% believing we have an individual responsibility to address climate change, compared to 55% in the UK and 59% in Germany and the UAE.  At 92% India leads the way on most green habits, including taking your own bags to shops, with the UK close at 87% and the USA at 58% coming in last.  At only 39%, Americans are least likely to avoid products with unnecessary packaging for environmental reasons, compared to 49% in the UK and just 27% in the USA eating locally sourced meat for environmental reasons, compared to 37% in the UK.

The UK is improving its uptake of environmental measures but could do a lot better to help the UK meet it obligatory 2050 carbon reduction target.