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Sustainability Talks

Pandemic-Driven Concerns Prompt A Recycling Wake-Up Call

TAGS: Recycling
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PHOENIX -- In advance of America Recycles Day on November 15, Republic Services (NYSE: RSG) released a survey highlighting how the COVID-19 pandemic has acted as a wake-up call for consumers to live a more sustainable life. Among the eye-opening results, six in ten Americans reported they are worried about the future of the environment — and the pandemic is also helping them change their eco-friendly habits. 

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Republic Services, the survey of 2,250 Americans — split evenly, geographically between nine major cities — revealed that 58% of respondents are reevaluating their eco-friendly habits as a result of the pandemic. About 65% said the pandemic has acted as a wake-up call for them to make sustainable choices, especially as they relate to recycling.

That said, while 75% of respondents recognized the importance of recycling, they don't always do it. About 52% said they recycle most of the time — the biggest barrier was simply a lack of space in their home for an extra bin (30%). That was followed by a lack of understanding of what can and can't be recycled (26%) and a belief that their recycling isn't actually recycled (24%).

Survey respondents identified five eco-friendly changes they've made since the pandemic started:

  • Becoming more aware of their impact on their environment (44%)
  • Being more careful to purchase eco-friendly products (43%)
  • Working to waste less (41%)
  • Taking more time to sort their recyclables (30%)
  • Composting more (26%)

"These survey results reinforce that Americans can and want to be better recyclers," said Pete Keller, vice president of sustainability and recycling. "In the face of a pandemic, Americans are rightfully thinking about the steps they can take to be less wasteful. Today more than ever, we have a critical need for recycled cardboard, paper, rigid plastic containers, aluminum and tin for manufacturing and the supply chain in the face of COVID-19."

To help consumers improve their recycling habits, Republic Services created the Recycling Simplified education campaign, which provides an array of tips and resources, including at-home and school-based lesson plans for pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade students.

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