This forms part of our ongoing work into chemistry, sustainability and the circular economy. We wanted to find out how attuned people were to issues of sustainability around plastics – how much they cared and what their level of knowledge was.
We found that while people were generally enthusiastic about protecting the environment, many were frustrated by confusing labels and recycling bins, or simply found it too difficult to avoid consuming plastics in their day to day life.
Professor Tom Welton, President of the Royal Society of Chemistry, said: "Despite high levels of environmental concern, many of us are still confused about how best to approach products that are made from plastic. Most of us are keen to do more on an individual level, but there is an urgent need for more help and clearer information.
"While some reforms are beginning to take shape in terms of improved labelling and more consistent local authority processes, these aren’t happening fast enough and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on resources is making the situation more urgent. We need to stem the tide of single-use plastic pollution now, and recycling is only part of the solution.
"In the longer term, we’ll need more sustainable plastics, and the chemical sciences industry has a huge role to play, not just in developing more efficient ways of recycling but in designing more recyclable materials from scratch – materials that will have a lesser impact on the environment.
"If we are to achieve this, we need to see significant collaboration between sciences, engineering, technology, materials design, humanities, human behaviour, policy, regulation, economics and business."