Survey Looks at How, Why Businesses Recycle

Companies look for flexible, affordable options for recycling their electronics, according to survey.

January 14, 2011

According to a recent survey, American businesses are looking for affordable and flexible options when it comes to recycling.

AERC Recycling Solutions, Miami, has contracted with Coral Gables, Fla.-based AJR & Partners to conduct research into the recycling habits of U.S. businesses. AERC says the results will help determine how AERC can help to improve business recycling rates in the country.

According to the 2010 AERC How & Why Businesses Recycle Survey, 90 percent of American businesses practice some form of recycling and 10 percent do not. Fifteen industries, including manufacturing, electronics, software, medical services, finance, insurance, real estate, education, retail and public administration, were represented by survey participants from all over the country. More than two-thirds of the survey respondents reported that their annual revenue was less than $25 million, while 20 percent said their annual revenue was less than $1 million.

According to the survey: 

  • Ninety percent of respondents either don’t know how their data is destroyed or have insufficient data destruction practices for protecting their organizations from data leaks or hackers retrieving sensitive information.
  • The top three waste streams with recycling rates greater than 80 percent are batteries, electronics and lamps.
  • Slightly more than half (51 percent) of firms that do not recycle say their customers, vendors and employees want them to recycle; however, 72 percent of these companies say the primary reasons for not having a recycling program in place is the lack of options or the cost.
  • Forty-five percent of respondents that do recycle said their cost of doing business has decreased by having a recycling program in light of lower insurance premiums or reduced liability for the company.
  • About 40 percent of all companies responding reported a need for more access to recycling options. 

“The 2010 AERC How & Why Businesses Recycle Survey was important for us to learn how to improve customer service and better communicate the benefits of recycling,” says Lindsay L. Landmesser, vice president of sales and marketing, AERC Recycling Solutions. “Since options and flexibility are important to most companies, AERC is able to provide those solutions while helping to reduce operational liability and regulatory costs.” 

More than two-thirds (72 percent) of the companies that do not recycle say it is either too costly to do so or they do not have available options in their geographic region. One-third of the companies that responded say they do not recycle because there is no law mandating it.  

Slightly more that half say their customers, vendors and employees want them to recycle, but the options are not there for them to meet those demands. Ten percent of respondents that do not recycle say they have no interest in it. 

The top three obstacles to increasing recycling among those respondents that do so are space limitations for recycling containers, the inconvenience of separating materials and the cost.  

Thirty-five percent of respondents say more training is needed to implement recycling programs for different types of waste streams.  

Close to two-thirds (63 percent) of respondents that recycle say they do not know how data on their electronic devices are destroyed. More than a quarter (27 percent) of respondents say they delete files off of their computers.  

“Just deleting files does not completely destroy the information, but simply moves the files to an area of the hard drive that is not visible to the average person,” Landmesser says. “AERC specializes in electronic waste by completely destroying all data contained on data storage devices collected from clients and ensuring that disposal adheres to our zero-waste-to-landfill policy.”  

AERC Recycling Solutions operates five electronics processing facilities, also known as Com-Cycle, in five separate geographic locations. More information is available at or at