The latest study from Two Sides suggests that a majority of UK consumers are still unaware of how high the recycling rate of paper really is. The study, conducted in conjunction with independent research company Toluna, echoed the findings of previous investigations by Two Sides.

In Europe 74% of paper, some 56 million tonnes, was collected and recycled in 2020. When it comes to paper packaging the recycling rate was even higher, 85.3%.

However, the Two Sides study showed that 46% of UK consumers believe that paper and paper packaging is wasteful, with only 17% believing the recycling rate exceeds 60%. Furthermore 15% think it is less than 20%, 34% between 20-39% and 34% between 40-59%. In terms of demographics it is 18 – 24 year olds who have the biggest misconception about paper, with just 12% believing the recycling rate exceeds 60%.

By comparison, the report showed that paper has a favourable recycling rate compared to other materials including glass (74%), metal (80%), plastic (42%) and electronics (42.3%).

Another key finding from the report was the fact that two thirds of Brits (66%) believe only recycled paper should be used, which Two Sides claimed demonstrated that most people understand the need for recycling paper and the fact that it’s sustainable. However the company added that this number also demonstrates a persistent myth that recycled paper is better for the environment.

The study also found that only 9% of UK consumers understand that European forests are growing, when, between 2005 and 2020, European forests grew by 58,390sqkm, an area larger than Switzerland and equivalent to 1500 football pitches of forest growth every day.

‘This report shows there are many environmental misconceptions surrounding print and paper products,’ commented Jonathan Tame, managing director of Two Sides Europe. ‘We need to inform consumers of the high recycling rate and how paper is an important raw material in the circular economy.’