America Recycles Day is November 15. Recycling can be the easiest way for Americans to be environmentalists. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, recycling is the easiest way to help protect our own environment.
While most people claim to support recycling, participation rates in curbside recycling programs across the country average around 50 percent. This shows that many Americans are not as diligent as they intend to be in recycling.
Here are some of the results from a national survey conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation, commissioned by the Aluminum Can Council’s Curbside Value Partnership.
Age appears to have a significant effect on whether or not people recycle. Of those surveyed with access to curbside recycling, the majority of participants who say they “always” recycle were baby boomers and senior citizens.
Eighty percent of people ages 45-54, seventy-six percent of people ages 55-64, and eighty-two percent of those 65 and older say they “always” recycle at the curb. On the opposite end of the spectrum the group that reported being most likely to never recycle at the curb were those between the ages of 18-34.
Young Adults Least Likely To Recycle
“We were a bit surprised to learn that the young adult age group is the least likely to recycle. The current perception is that this is an age group that is quite socially conscious and ‘into’ environmental protection,” said Steve Thompson, 31-year veteran of the recycling industry and Program Director of the Curbside Value Partnership.
“This could be an indication that many are unaware of curbside programs in their communities. This reiterates the importance of communities regularly communicating to their residents, encouraging them to participate in their curbside recycling programs.”
Survey respondents also revealed a variation among what types of materials individuals are most diligent about recycling. Of all the recyclable materials, newspaper is the most popular item to recycle at (32%), with aluminum cans (25%) followed by plastic bottles (20%) and glass bottles (14%).
In households with no children, newspaper is the most commonly recycled item, however, in households with children the figure drops from 35% to 23% (12 and under) then up again to 26% when children are 12-17. Interestingly, while families with children appear to be less careful about recycling newspaper, there is a small spike in other materials, including aluminum, plastic, and glass.
“As the Earth’s population continues to grow, it is more important than ever for Americans to realize that our resources are finite,” says Heather McNamara, Senior Vice President of Hill & Knowlton, the public relations firm hired by the Aluminum Can Council to help promote recycling to consumers.
“There is a misconception that consumers don’t care about recycling. The truth is, they do care, they just need to know how small changes to their everyday activities can make a positive impact. We can’t expect them to go out of their way, but if we can simplify the message, show them the facts and give them tangible action items, we will see results. Our goal is to encourage all Americans to take the time to make a habit of recycling on America Recycles Day, and every day!”