Survey: Americans continue to recycle despite doubts

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A Carton Council survey found 44% of respondents simply don’t believe their recyclables are being recycled. | siam.pukkato/Shutterstock

Industry-wide challenges are causing recycling-related skepticism among the public. But that’s not leading consumers to stop recycling, according to a recent survey.

In a national poll commissioned by the Carton Council, 85% of respondents said they recycle. In fact, the survey found, despite market upheavals and widespread scrutiny on whether recycling is effective, “the reality is that Americans say they are still recycling at the same rate.”

Support for recycling is highest among younger people, but there is, overall, only slight variation between age groups all the way up to age 65. In the survey, 92% of respondents between ages 18 and 34 said they recycle, as did 89% of respondents between ages 35 and 49 and 87% of those aged 50 to 64. Out of respondents ages 65 and over, 68% said they recycle.

But Americans’ commitment to recycling may be on shaky ground, given the significant public attention on the recycling market struggles of the past couple years.

“While people say they are still recycling, they aren’t confident in what happens to those materials once they leave the curb,” according to the Carton Council report.

The survey found 44% of respondents simply don’t believe their recyclables are being recycled, whereas 21% said they were “unsure” where their recyclables end up.

“This reinforces that we, as an industry, need to work together to ensure recycling is actually occurring and show consumers what happens to the recyclables after they leave their curbs, removing their skepticism,” said Carla Fantoni, vice president of communications for the Carton Council.

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