A new survey from CleanHub details the attitudes Americans have towards recycling in 2024. Results show that most Americans recycle at home but lack the ability to recycle at work, are aware and wary of plastic use in their daily lives, and want the government to step in to make recycling more accessible, while calling for business to do more to address plastic pollution.

Gage Edwards, Content Producer

March 19, 2024

4 Min Read
Felix Images / Alamy Stock Photo

A new survey from CleanHub details the attitudes Americans have towards recycling in 2024. Results show that most Americans recycle at home but lack the ability to recycle at work, are aware and wary of plastic use in their daily lives, and want the government to step in to make recycling more accessible, while calling for business to do more to address plastic pollution.

CleanHub, a startup dedicated to preventing plastic pollution, published its survey results on March 18, also known as Global Recycling Day. CleanHub surveyed 965 U.S. citizens to understand their thoughts on recycling at home and at work, if they recycle and what challenges they face to do so, and where they would like to see more action from leaders and brands regarding recycling.

Results from the survey show that a staggering 87% of the respondents say they recycle at home, which would indicate households are on the right track and possess the awareness of recycling initiatives. However, only 44% of the respondents reported that their workplaces had recycling facilities while 20% claim that their workplaces have no recycling facilities at all. The lack of recycling accessibility at workplaces compared to the willingness of Americans to recycle demonstrates a clear hold up in the recycling process. Recyclables need somewhere to go at every corner of our day.

"While US plastic recycling rates are incredibly low for a developed country, the American population’s attitude towards the issue couldn’t be more different. Our survey findings show that the majority of Americans not only diligently recycle but have a clear desire for action on a larger scale,” said CleanHub’s Vice President of Marketing, Nikki Stones.

The survey asked respondents about single-use plastic and how much they use the troublesome items. The presence and potential issue of these plastics aren’t lost on the respondents as 52% said they actively try to avoid single-use plastics, but 33% of respondents say they find it impossible to do so in their day to day lives. Respondents are also skeptical when it comes to plastic recycling, as 35% responded that they were ‘not confident’ that their plastics get recycled. Lastly, 84% of respondents say that they are concerned about microplastics and how that is affecting their health.

Respondents showed a strong interest in having the government step in to make recycling more accessible. The survey reports that 77% of respondents said, ‘yes’ when asked if the ‘US government needs to implement more recycling measures.” CleanHub suggests this could point to policies that cover all states instead of the current state by state method. A quarter of those in the survey said that they didn’t know of were unsure of what materials could be recycled in their state. Of the group, 31% mention that access to facilities is a big hurdle when it comes to recycling.

“The government - at a federal and state level - has to do more. They must provide convenient access to recycling facilities and education, as well as create policies to drive more sustainable business practices,” said Stones.

It's not just the government that people want to act in recycling, a large percentage of respondents (78%) think that brands and businesses need to do more to help combat plastic pollution. Almost half the respondents say that they would willingly pay more for sustainably packaged products, although many mentioned it would depend on the price of the packaging before they would commit to seeking out sustainable packaging from different businesses.

Cost plays a crucial role for consumers attempting to be sustainable as 59% of respondents over 45 say that the rising costs make it harder to shop sustainably. A majority (79%) of respondents ages 18-29 say it’s hard to support sustainable brands due to higher costs of living.

“The emphasis on the cost of sustainable products is a familiar one, especially during a cost of living crisis. This is why brands also have a vital role to play by tackling plastic pollution in a way that doesn’t carry the financial impact onto consumers,” said Stones.

It's clear that there is a desire to recycle and shop sustainably among Americans but there are several factors standing in their way to do so effectively. Addressing barriers such as access to facilities, cost, and awareness will be crucial in driving meaningful change and achieving a more sustainable future.

About the Author(s)

Gage Edwards

Content Producer, Waste360

Gage Edwards is a Content Producer at Waste360 and seasoned video editor.

Gage has spent the better part of 10 years creating content in various industries but mostly revolving around video games.

Gage loves video games, theme parks, and loathes littering.

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