Most Americans admit not fully understand their local recycling policies

A new study from Nature’s Logic and OnePoll found many people are clueless when it comes to their local recycling policies. (Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash)

More than half of Americans have a guilt trip when they don’t know what item should be recycled, according to new research.

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

That’s why 72% feel recycling should be standardized, and seven in 10 believe it’s the government’s job to do it.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of pet food brand Nature’s Logic, the survey also suggests that 64% don’t fully understand their local policies.

Over half of the participants 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% say a better education on recycling is another solution.

Respondents were also asked which sectors they believe need to make more of an effort to be eco-friendly, citing 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) said the most wasteful items are waste pick-up/removal (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% said they 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,” explained Caroline Golon, Nature’s Logic vice president of marketing. “In the meantime, there are other sustainable measures out there like 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.”

Additionally, seven in 10 pet owners said they would rather buy a product clearly labeled with instructions on how to recycle it and 66% said they would prefer to buy a product that is Certified Plastic Neutral.

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

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 said. “That’s where on-package instructions come into play. Many types of packaging now carry their label which helps guide consumers how to prepare the item and where to recycle it.”

Takeaway food containers — 46%
Water bottles — 38%
Alcoholic beverage containers — 36%
Pet food containers/bags — 32%
Cardboard boxes — 31%

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