The Future Is Bright for American Recycling
This week, the U.S. Senate released the proposed Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan, which designates historic levels of funding for recycling infrastructure. Not only is this an important step forward for the CPG industry, which has long called for more federal involvement in our broken recycling system, but it is also an important win for consumers who want to protect their environment and ensure items tossed into their bins are actually recycled.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there are more than 9,800 county or municipal recycling systems, each with their own rules about what can and cannot be recycled. There is no doubt that consumers are confused by the system, but new research from Consumer Brands shows that they are deeply engaged in environmental improvement and want to participate in a system that works.
The CPG industry and consumers are engaged and ready for a greener future and a fully circular economy. A functioning recycling system is a critical part of getting there.
A Consumer Brands/Ipsos poll of 1,530 American adults found that more than half (53%) consider themselves environmentalists. Eight-in-ten (80%) respondents report being concerned about the environment, though specific concern over plastic and packaging waste is even higher at 84%.
This concern is widespread across generations. Boomers actually have the highest level of concern about packaging waste with 87% reporting concern, compared to Generation X (79%), Millennials (83%) and Gen Z (85%).
While the majority of Americans believe that the federal government should tackle plastic and packaging waste as its next “moon shot,” consumers are increasingly taking matters into their own hands to make conscientious choices. If given the option to buy products with recyclable or compostable packaging, 47% of Americans opt for recyclable products as their first choice and 20% prefer compostable products.
CPG companies are recognizing the changing attitudes on packaging among consumers and are constantly innovating to meet the demand for more environmentally friendly packaging. For example, Procter & Gamble debuted a Head & Shoulders shampoo bottle made of 25% recycled beach plastic in 2017 and recently announced plans to test refillable shampoo bottles under the same brand in the coming year. And for those looking for an eco-friendly hand soap, Colgate-Palmolive recently launched Softsoap foaming soap tablets, packaged in reusable, refillable aluminum bottles. And the high rate of environmental concern suggests consumers are ready to accept packaging that looks different if it supports better health for the planet.
The CPG industry and consumers are engaged and ready for a greener future and a fully circular economy. A functioning recycling system is a critical part of getting there and the Senate’s action to fund recycling infrastructure is an important step.
These are the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between June 30 – July 9, 2021. For this study, a sample of 1,530 adults age 18+ were surveyed.
Published on August 7, 2021
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