Most American consumers say they recycle even though only a small percentage of them believe that materials actually get recycled, according to a recent survey from major carton manufacturing companies.
The Carton Council, composed of Elopak, SIG Combibloc, Evergreen Packaging, and Tetra Pak, commissioned the national survey. Independent polling firm Mason-Dixon conducted the research on the council’s behalf.
This week the Carton Council reported that 85% of survey respondents say they recycle even though 65% of them are either unsure what happens to their materials or don’t believe that the materials are even being recycled.
In addition to demonstrating American support for recycling, the research found that support is highest among the youngest people surveyed. Of American respondents ages 18 to 34, 92% reported that they recycle, the council said.
“As age increases, support decreases slightly with 89% of 35- to 49-year-olds, 87% of 50- to 64-year-olds, and 68% of those 65 and older reporting they recycle,” the survey found.
The results show that the majority of Millennials and Gen Z support recycling despite recent negative publicity, said Carla Fantoni, VP of communications for the Carton Council.
“While recycling is currently facing challenges that began with turmoil stemming from the China restrictions and bans, it is a cyclical industry and we are seeing investments in both materials recovery facilities and end markets,” she added.
Formed about a decade ago, the Carton Council works on collaborative solutions to divert cartons from the landfill. In addition, the group seeks to build a sustainable infrastructure for nationwide carton recycling with the goal of adding access throughout the United States.
In 2008, only 18% of American households could recycle their cartons, the council’s site says. Today, more than 60% have access to carton recycling, according to the Carton Council’s data.
Still, the latest survey reinforces that the industry needs to work together to ensure that recycling is actually occurring — and show consumers what actually happens to recyclables, Fantoni said.