Cranfield looks at recycling attitudes

August 16, 2000

Researchers at Cranfield University's School of Water Sciences have recently completed a major survey of public attitudes to water recycling. The study, part of an EPSRC funded project on water recycling, was carried out between March and April this year and involved over 300 respondents throughout England and Wales.

Although the UK may not appear to have a water supply problem, there is a continuing need to balance the demand for the supply of fresh water. The clustering of droughts over the past 20 years and changes in the spatial patterns of water demand raise important questions concerning the resilience of existing water supply arrangements. Consequently, the potential for water recycling and reuse in the UK is considerable.

Although many technologies for water recycling are available, widespread implementation of working schemes has been hampered by debates over whether the public would accept water recycling, particularly 'in-house' systems.

The most significant finding from the study is that the large majority of the public are supportive of water recycling as a concept. For example, 89% of respondents agreed with the statement 'I have no objections to water recycling as long as safety is guaranteed.' 88% of respondents were prepared to use recycled water from their own bath and shower to flush their toilet.

Using recycled water from second party or public sources was less acceptable, although half the population were prepared to use recycled water for toilet flushing, irrespective of the water source.

Water Sciences' Dr Paul Jeffrey, part of the survey team, is very pleased with the way the project has gone. "This was a comprehensive and independent study of England and Wales. The results are significant as they disprove the widespread theory that the public is against all water recycling."

"The findings from the survey allow us to identify which types of water recycling are publicly acceptable and which are not, thereby helping us to identify niche markets and guide the design of appropriate technologies."

Cranfield University

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