Eco-confusion: Recycling turns into frequent guessing game for 3 in 5 people

NEW YORK — Do you have a panic attack while trying to decide which bin your trash goes in? You’re not alone. More than half of Americans feel guilty when they don’t know what items they should recycle.

The survey of 2,000 people found 58 percent play the guessing game about four times a week when they’re recycling and 64 percent would like more guidance on how to properly sort paper, plastic, and other materials.

That’s why 72 percent feel recycling should be standardized and seven in 10 believe it’s the government’s job to sort our trash.

It ain’t easy being green

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of all-natural pet food brand Nature’s Logic, the survey also found 64 percent don’t fully understand their local recycling policies.

recyclingOver half of the poll believe the recycling system’s efficiency could be improved by broadening the spectrum of recyclable materials (54%). Thirty-four percent also believe that the system can be improved with higher quality sorting machines, while 28 percent say a better education on recycling is another solution.

Researchers asked Americans which sectors they believe need to make more of an effort to be eco-friendly. Their list included pet food and supply companies (44%), food and drink companies (41%), and cleaning product companies (39%).

With pet companies having the highest demand for more sustainable products, pet owners (about 1,700 respondents) say the most wasteful items are waste pick-up and removal items (46%), cleaning products (45%), and pet food (43%). Fifty-nine percent of pet owners are surprised to learn that most pet food bags are not recyclable, but 79 percent would be willing to spend more on eco-friendly products.

“Creating recyclable pet food packaging is surprisingly more complex and costly than most people think,” explains Caroline Golon, Nature’s Logic vice president of marketing, in a statement. “We, like many businesses, are working diligently on this but in the meantime, we’ve put other sustainable measures in place like making bags that are Certified Plastic Neutral or that use post-consumer recycled materials. Those are two packaging solutions consumers can look for when seeking more eco-friendly packaging.”

Companies need to step up when it comes to recycling

recyclingAdditionally, seven in 10 pet owners would rather buy a product clearly labeled with instructions on how to recycle it and 66 percent would prefer to buy a product that is “Certified Plastic Neutral.”

Forty-six percent of respondents would switch to brands that have more eco-friendly packaging and 44 percent wouldn’t mind paying more for pet food containers and bags to be more sustainable.

Overall, three in four people surveyed (74%) believe in moving toward only using recyclable materials, so landfills are obsolete in 100 years.

“One of the biggest challenges with recycling is educating customers how to recycle certain items. It can be very confusing and not everything can go in curbside recycling as-is,” Golon says. “That’s where on-package instructions come into play.”

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About the Author

Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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