There is an increasing need for public and private sector collaboration to create and implement recycling solutions across the country, as shown by a recent survey conducted by Research Data + Insights on behalf of the Carton Council of North America (CCNA). The survey revealed that consumers overwhelmingly believe that product companies and their brands play a crucial role in recycling: Of 1,000 adults surveyed across the U.S., 86 percent responded that they expect food and beverage brands to actively help increase the recycling of their packages.
U.S. consumers also indicated that they look first to the products they purchase for environmental information, ahead of other resources, with the vast majority (76 percent) consulting a product's packaging to learn if a package is recyclable, followed by the product's company website (33 percent) and the consumer's city website (26 percent).
"We're working hard to spread carton recycling access to every community around the country, and we need to do all we can to educate consumers about placing cartons in the recycling bin in communities that accept cartons in their recycling program,” Pelz continues. “But we can't do it alone and would like brands to help us spread the word, on packages, on their websites, via social media vehicles and beyond."
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The Carton Council is leading a national effort to increase access to carton recycling in the U.S. In 2009, 21 million U.S. households had access to carton recycling in 26 states. Now, 52.5 million households in 45 states can recycle cartons, a 150 percent increase that includes 64 of the nation's top 100 cities. Food and beverage brands that use cartons for their products are encouraged to join this effort, especially in helping promote carton recycling to their customers. CCNA can provide companies with tools to inform their customers — from the first step, which is adding the recycling logo to packages and recycling information on their websites, to an extensive list of possibilities beyond that. Those interested can connect with the Carton Council through CartonOpportunities.org.
While making recycling more available is key, making it easy is equally important. To help take the guesswork out of package recycling options, GreenBlue last year launched its How2Recycle label, which provides explicit disposal instructions on the packaging of products from a number of participating CPG companies, including Kellogg, Seventh Generation, Aveda and General Mills, to name a few. Though guides such as this are helping to demystify proper packaging disposal options for conscious consumers, there remains confusion around proper ways to dispose compostable and biodegradable plastics; three laws, proposed in March in North Carolina and Alabama, would require containers made from these plastics to be labeled “non-recyclable,” in an effort to inform consumers and maintain the integrity of municipal waste streams.