Recycling Survey: Residents Still Confused

Community Recycling News

An online survey released by the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) found that U.S. residents have gained a better understanding of how the recycling industry works but are still unsure about many basic concepts.

Nearly half of US adults do not have information on recycling available to them. Less than 30% believed that the industry is “highly technical and sophisticated”, and many did not think recycling generated enough material to meet the country’s manufacturing needs. The most commonly accepted false statement was that material from residential recycling bins is mixed with refuse after collection.

These results follow other studies that show growing awareness about the benefits of recycling but confusion about the process behind it. One found a majority believed they could recycle “most types of items” where they lived, but less than one-third of their communities recycled as a “norm”. Another survey found that people believe recycling has become easier but also found common distrust of recycling systems. Other surveys found that industry terminology or a lack of transparency about the recycling process could be barriers to better understanding.

The takeaway? Communication is key. Consistent education with the provided guides, talking to customers about contamination, and positive reinforcement when they do it right, will help us keep our single stream clean.