Recycling information unavailable to 44 percent of US adults, according to survey

Recycling information unavailable to 44 percent of US adults, according to survey

ISRI survey says most U.S. adults turn to the internet to learn more about recycling.

January 9, 2017
Recycling Today Staff
Municipal / IC&I

According to the results of an online survey released by the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), Washington, and conducted online by Harris Poll, more than 103 million Americans older than 18 must rely on their own devices to figure out what can and cannot be recycled, information about the recycling process and other details about recycling. This total represents 44 percent of the adult population, ISRI says, with many of those surveyed saying they rely on internet searches (52 percent), information from local government sources (21 percent), family or friends (18 percent) or other sources for information on recycling.

“It is deeply troubling to know that almost half of adults do not have access to recycling information,” says Robin Wiener, president of ISRI. “When people do not know how, what or where to recycle, it can lead to trash entering and contaminating the recycling stream. It could also lead to recyclable materials ending up in landfills. Further public education on recycling by municipalities is needed to clear up confusion, promote proper recycling, and thereby increase recycling rates.”

ISRI says key findings from the survey include:

  • Fifty-six percent of Americans say detailed information about recycling is readily available to them, while 44 percent say it's not and that they have to seek it out.
  • Thirty-six percent of Americans say they either seek out or are provided with detailed information about recycling from their local governments. Among those who say detailed information about recycling is readily available to them, 49 percent say it's provided by their local government. Among those who have to seek out detailed information about recycling, 21 percent say they go to local government to seek it out.
  • Overall, 39 percent of Americans say that they either seek out or are provided with detailed information about recycling from the internet. Among those who say detailed information about recycling is readily available to them, 30 percent say it's provided on the internet, while 52 percent of those who have to seek out detailed information use the internet to do so.
  • Whether it is provided or sought out, only 6 percent of respondents received information from local schools.
  • Of all respondents, 18 percent received information from their local garbage men.

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of ISRI from Dec. 16-20, 2016, among 2,088 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample, and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated, ISRI says.