Kids, Hispanics Most Gung-ho Recyclers

In a study meant to explore how willing Americans are to extend their green behavior beyond the kitchen trashcan, children and Hispanics are emerging as the country’s most enthusiastic recyclers.

The research, done by Cone Communications and Johnson & Johnson, found that marketers could do a much better job of teaching people what should and shouldn’t be tossed in the recycling bin, with 25% saying they would recycle more if products were better labeled.

“For marketers, there is a huge opportunity to give more cues to consumers about how products are made, and what the packaging contains,” says Liz Gorman, Cone’s SVP- sustainable business practices. Overall, she says, the survey, based on responses from 1,265 American adults, reports an impressive 90% of consumers do some recycling, “and many do it often. At this point, recycling behavior is baked in.”



By demographic segment, Hispanics are the most passionate recycling advocates, with 56% saying they always recycle at home, compared to just 46% of the total U.S. population. They are also more likely to do their homework, with 26% saying they do additional research to find out what is recyclable, versus 20% of the total sample.

Having kids in the home, overall, also sharpens a household’s recycling skills, with 62% of parents describing their children as very motivated recyclers. Additionally, 60% say their kids are always looking for ways to protect the planet, and 50% say kids educate the rest of the family about the ins and outs of recycling.

The study also probed how careful consumers are about recycling throughout the home, particularly with discarded packaging generated in bathrooms and home offices, and finds that while 72% of consumers recycle with some consistency throughout the home, just half do so in rooms beyond the kitchen. Their main reason? Lack of bins in rooms outside the kitchen, where 56% of respondents keep them. (About 43% say they keep bins in the garage or basement, and 21% say the have them in the laundry room. Just 14% have recycling bins in their bathroom.) “Bin convenience creates either a barrier or an opportunity,” she says.

Confusion is still a factor, including uncertainty about community recycling policies. About 28% only recycle items if they know they are recyclable, and 26% recycle as many items as they can, even if they’re not sure if they can be recyclable or not.

While 10% say they recycle simply because it is mandated by their communities, 46% say a concern for the environment is their chief motivation.

"Recycling Bins" photo from Shutterstock.

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