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Waste & Recycling January 10, 2017 01:30:17 PM

New survey highlights lack of recycling awareness among Americans

Paul Ploumis
ScrapMonster Author
The survey presented eight questions to respondents, out of which four were true statements and the remaining four were false statements.
New survey highlights lack of recycling awareness among Americans

SPOKANE (Scrap Monster): The online survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) indicates that most US residents lacks proper awareness of standard recycling concepts. However, it states that the country residents now have a better understanding of how the recycling industry works.

The survey presented eight questions to respondents, out of which four were true statements and the remaining four were false statements. The respondents were asked to respond by saying whether the statements were true to their belief and knowledge.

Among true statements, only 49% of respondents said that recycling leads to reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Also, only 28% believed that the US recycling industry is highly advanced and sophisticated. Only 27% believed that the materials recycled in the US are sufficient to meet the production needs of domestic manufacturers. The fact that the history of recycling dates back as early as the cave man, received only 19% support. Nearly 73% believed in at least one out of the four true statements.

Of the false statements, still 11 out of 100 believe that recyclables in residential recycling bins are later mixed with trash. 8% believed that products made out of recyclable materials are of lesser quality when matched with those made from new raw materials. The statement that recycling brings about no/little economic benefits received 7% support. Also, 5% of the respondents believed that recycling does not lead to energy savings and conservation of natural resources. Nearly 22% believed in at least one out of the four false statements.

According to ISRI, the wider acceptance of the true statements indicates significant progress in recycling awareness among residents. However, there is an urgent need for better education through targeted campaigns and public awareness/education tours. The Institute will fight against common public misperceptions about recycling and do the needful to promote the value of recycling, said ISRI President Robin Wiener.

The online Harris Poll survey conducted from Dec. 16-20, 2016, among 2,088 adults ages 18 and older also finds that only 56% of the Americans have easy access to detailed recycling information, whereas the balance 44% noted that they have to seek it out. Among those who said that recycling information is readily available to them, 49% noted that this information is provided by local governments. Also, 30% depend on Internet for the detailed recycling information. Among those who seek out, only 21% approach local government for detailed recycling information. Nearly 52% use the Internet to seek out detailed information. Finally, 18% of all respondents stated that the updated information is obtained from local garbage men.

The findings of the Harris Poll online survey are more or less in line with the earlier surveys. A survey by the Pew Research Center had found that only 59% people believe that most types of items can be recycled. While 34% of the respondents were unaware of electronics recycling options, only 48% firmly believed that their respective communities had options for recycling used electronic items. As per another survey conducted by Keep America Beautiful in partnership with Natural Marketing Institute, nearly one-third of the adults were doubtful that the waste deposited in curb is recycled. Also, 27% believed that there are high chances that the waste gets mixed with refuse in the same truck.


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