Pandemic has made recycling more important than ever before according to Carton Council
Carton Council of North America research points to significant increase in those who deem recycling as a major priority
The recycling industry has faced many challenges over the last few years, yet consumers are still overwhelmingly (95 percent) supportive of recycling.
According to research commissioned by the Carton Council of North America, 74 percent think recycling is important and people should make it a priority. This represents a 13 percent increase from 2015 when 61 percent said they were supportive of recycling. An additional 21 percent said people should do what they can to try to recycle.
Since 2015, the American recycling system has struggled through restrictions and bans from China, leading to changes in some programs, negative media coverage and often confusion for consumers surrounding what is recyclable. Add to that the havoc caused by COVID-19, which caused some recycling programs to temporarily pause. The takeaway is that consumers believe recycling is important and increasingly the right thing to do.
"When asked why they recycle their aseptic and gable top food and beverage cartons, overwhelmingly consumers mention environmental benefits. The top reasons included ‘it's good for the planet,' ‘to create a better world for future generations' and ‘to reduce pollution and my carbon footprint,'" said Carla Fantoni, vice president of communications for the Carton Council and for Tetra Pak Americas.
While this presents a rosy outlook, unfortunately what consumers report and what they actually recycle varies greatly, as anyone working in the recycling industry knows. For example, the most recent average national recycling rate according to the EPA is just 34 percent.
Fifty-eight percent of consumers said the circumstances of 2020 and the pandemic have made them feel it's more important now to recycle than before. Additionally, knowing what products are created from the materials recycled overwhelmingly inspires consumers to recycle more (70 percent).
"This tells us the timing to educate is ideal. Consumers are open to being reminded to recycle when shown the benefits," said Fantoni. "When it comes to cartons specifically, 77 percent said knowing that recycled food and beverage cartons are used to make paper products, such as toilet paper and paper towels, makes them more likely to recycle them."