New survey by Friends of Glass highlights that when it comes to recycling knowledge, age matters

The Germans are brilliant at it and so are the Italians. The French and Spanish know more about it than most and the Swiss are naturally top of the class. And the British? We’re getting there, but could do better. But a new survey has revealed that when it comes to awareness about recyclability of materials, it’s not so much our nationalities that divide us, but our age.

The survey into the recycling habits of 8,000 Europeans in 11 countries by the Friends of Glass community has shown that recycling across Europe continues to enjoy strong support, with awareness about glass recyclability particularly high. However, while 94% of European consumers are aware of the importance of recycling food and drink packaging, the younger generation in general are less informed recyclers.

For example, the survey found that only just over 50% of 18-29 year-olds in the UK knew that glass could be recycled infinitely compared with 77% of 50-59 year-olds. An impressive 96.4% of the younger Britons claimed to recycle but only 31.4% thought that glass was the most environmentally-friendly food and drink packaging material. The survey confirmed that across Europe, the 60+ age group are generally more aware of the importance of environmental benefits of recycling food and drink packaging than those between 18-29.

Rebecca Cocking of Friends of Glass UK comments: “While it’s encouraging to see so many Millennials taking the trouble to recycle, it’s a concern that their awareness that glass can be recycled an infinite number of times isn’t higher. Obviously more work needs to be done to highlight the brilliant sustainable properties of glass and why it remains an important food and drink packaging material today and for the future”.

The survey also took gender differences into consideration. Women are generally less aware of the sustainable properties of glass than men. This was especially prevalent in the survey findings for participants in the UK (68.8% vs 64%), Germany and the Czech Republic. In Slovakia and Croatia, there is a lower awareness about the recycling benefits of glass among both genders. In Switzerland, both men and women recycle at a rate of above 90%.

In 9 out of the 11 countries surveyed, people on average recycle 6-20 glass items in a month. In Switzerland, almost all people claim to recycle glass (99.6%), followed by Germany (88.6%). France (74%) and Spain (77%) are the countries with the highest rate of people who know that glass can be ‘infinitely’ recycled into new bottles and jars – the figure for the UK is 66.3%.

Rebecca Cocking added: “One of the great benefits of glass is just how easy it is to recycle. There has been some recent misinformation in the news about how you must wash out jars and bottles thoroughly before recycling. This isn’t necessary – a quick rinse if possible is preferable but not essential and you can pop the lids and tops back on too. These will be dealt with as part of the recycling process. We’re keen that all ages understand that glass really is a wonderful, never-ending resource with endless lives that we can all benefit from over and over again”.

For more information, please contact:

Amanda Barry-Hirst: tel: +44 (0)7860 313576 or +44 (0)1854 612248


Rebecca Cocking: tel: +44 (0)114 2901850

For more information on the survey, visit or check our national scorecards here

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About the Survey

The omnibus survey was carried out in partnership with the Research Institute Respondi and had a sample size of 1,000 for United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain. Sample size of 500 for Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Croatia, Czech Republic, Slovakia. Today, 73% of glass bottles and jars are collected for recycling in Europe. About 90% of them are endlessly recycled into new bottles and jars. One kilo of recycled glass replaces 1.2 kilos of virgin raw materials and reduced CO2 emissions by 67%. For each 10% of recycled glass put in the furnace there is a 3% energy saving. For further results, see national scorecards on

About Friends of Glass

Friends of Glass started in 2008 as an awareness campaign for glass packaging. It was created by FEVE, the European Container Glass Federation, an international not-for-profit association representing glass packaging for food and drink, flacons for perfumery, pharmacy and cosmetics and glass tableware makers. Friends of Glass unites a community of people from different countries in Europe and beyond who are convinced that glass is an ideal packaging material because of its unique environmental, economic and family-friendly benefits. Individuals, national organizations, agencies and companies that believe in the sustainability credentials of glass are also proud members of the community.

About British Glass

The British Glass Manufacturers’ Confederation represents the interests of all sectors of the glass industry in the UK. Its main activity is in representing the industry at European, national and local level on a wide range of topical legislative issues. It also conducts independent research into all aspects of glass production and technology.

About FEVE

FEVE, the European Container Glass Federation, is the association of European manufacturers of glass packaging containers and machine-made glass tableware. The federation represents the glass container industry at an international and European level, serving as a forum for examining common questions. FEVE maintains a dialogue with the European institutions and agencies on environmental, trade and other important issues relevant to the industry. The federation promotes glass packaging and glass recycling, complementing the activities of the glass industry at a national level.