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Students warn on careless recycling messages

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Attempts to use social media to encourage young people to recycle may backfire unless careful thought is given to messages.

That warning has come from a report written by students and sponsored by Can Makers, a drinks packaging industry group.

It said young people see social media “as a social rather than commercial tool [and] there may be resistance to messages given on a social platform”.

Such messages “can sometimes represent poor attempts to ‘get down’ with the young generation” and would reach only those already convinced of the need for recycling, the report said.

“Corporate groups and fan pages can be viewed with distrust by young users who may question its authenticity.”

It said simple standardised symbols and bins were needed as young people interviewed were puzzled by inconsistencies in usage of recycling symbols on packs, at points of sale and recycling sites. 

Young people often consume package food and drinks ‘on the go’ and said increased numbers of convenient collection points would encourage them to recycle more material.

The report also called for more consistent messages, pointing out that only 25% of respondents definitely believed that what they recycled went into new products.

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