While curbside recycling is available to more than half the adults in the United States, recycling could benefit from a better public understanding about what can be recycled, according to a new study.
The study commissioned by the Washington-based National Waste & Recycling Association concluded that two-thirds of Americans are clear on what should be recycled. The association said this is an opportunity to educate the remaining third on what can be recycled, according to its news release.
Harris Poll conducted the survey online with more than 2,000 adults earlier this month.
The survey found that 55 percent of Americans have access to curbside recycling. Americans that indicated they know what goes into recycling bins totaled 67 percent, and 64 percent know it is necessary to rinse used food containers before placing them into recycling receptacles.
However, 39 percent of Americans incorrectly believe it is okay to recycle plastic bags in household bins, unaware that plastic bags can damage recycling facilities.
“It is encouraging to learn that many Americans have access to recycling at home and are smart about what materials are recyclable,” said Sharon Kneiss, president and CEO of the association. “Our industry works every day to expand recycling, to increase the variety of materials we can recycle and to better educate the public to recycle even smarter.”
The survey also revealed that 9 percent of Americans put their waste into recycling containers when their trash containers are full, and 20 percent said they will place an item into a recycling container even if they aren’t sure it’s recyclable.
“Americans should ‘know before they throw’ when recycling – it’s important to put the right materials in the bin and to keep the wrong ones out,” Kneiss said. “This preserves the quality of the recycling stream and prevents contamination and damage to recycling equipment and facilities.”