Study sheds light on millennials’ stance on workplace sustainability

Two-thirds of millennials would give up social media if everyone at their company recycled.


More than two-thirds of millennials report they would give up social media for one week if everyone at their company recycled, according to a new study conducted by Lightspeed, a globally integrated research organization, on behalf of Rubbermaid Commercial Products (RCP), Huntersville, North Carolina.

The study, “Recycling in the Workplace: A Millennial View,” examines the latest trends transforming the workplace, focusing on the next generation of workers’ attitudes toward the spaces where they work.

In 2015, millennials (age 18-34) surpassed Generation X (age 35-49) as the largest share of the U.S. workforce, wielding the power to shape today’s workplace practices and values, says RCP. As this next generation continues to enter the job market, employers should take notice of what these workers are saying and adapt their sustainability strategies accordingly to attract and maintain new talent, RCP says.

Nearly one in 10 millennials report they would quit their jobs if they found out their current employer was not sustainable. Fifty-one percent of millennials are planning to leave the company they currently work for in the next two years, compared with 37 percent of Generation X and 25 percent of Baby Boomers (age 50-64).

“The findings of our recycling study show a tangible commitment to sustainability is a requirement for the next generation of workers,” says Anna Whitton, vice president of marketing, RCP. “Millennials are ready to make a difference and willing to turn down jobs that don’t align with their beliefs. RCP will continue working with this emerging generation to promote waste reduction and provide superior recycling solutions in commercial environments.”

Key findings of the “Recycling in the Workplace: A Millennial View” study include:

  • Sustainability is important to this generation and is a core value they consider in relation to their career. Nine in 10 millennials say it is important they work for a sustainable company, compared to 84 percent of Gen Xers and 77 percent of Baby Boomers.
  • Millennials are empowered to inspire change in their work environment, says RCP. Eighty-two percent of millennials look for opportunities to help their company become more sustainable and 67 percent report they have enough influence in their workplace to make an impact on matters such as sustainability. 
  • Millennials do want to do more, and believe recycling should be an obligation for their employer. More than 80 percent of millennials whose employer does not have a recycling system in place believe employers have a responsibility to encourage recycling in the workplace. Seventy-seven percent of millennials say they recycle at work, and 83 percent say they recycle at home, suggesting recycling at work is more challenging. If their office provided more recycling points, 62 percent of millennials say they would recycle more in the workplace, compared to 55 percent of Gen Xers and 58 percent of Baby Boomers.