New study illuminates consumer confusion about recycling and sentiment toward plastic packaging in the U.S.
Nestlé Waters North America (NWNA) today unveils its third annual, comprehensive national study, This is How We Planet: America's Perspective on Water, Packaging and Health. As part of America Recycles Week (November 11-15), NWNA highlights some of the biggest packaging and recycling challenges facing the U.S. today and how the company has made strides since last year's America Recycles Week to address them.
The This is How We Planet: America's Perspective on Water, Packaging and Health Study has revealed:
94% of Americans say that our society produces too much plastic waste, and yet 42% of those surveyed say it is easier to throw away plastic in their area than to recycle it.
Rural communities, in particular, are at a disadvantage, with 52% of rural residents saying that it is easier to throw away plastic in their community than to recycle it.
Nearly three in four Americans (74%) expect to see more action from companies that use plastic to tackle the problem of plastic waste.
Only about half of Americans (52%) feel they are aware of what kinds of plastic are and are not recyclable. Those who reported being aware of how to recycle plastics were nearly twice as likely to always recycle compared to those who were not aware (52% compared to 29%).
Americans overwhelmingly support campaigns that encourage individuals to do more to recycle (86%) and explain the recyclability of different types of plastic (83%).
"One thing is clear from our 2019 study: Americans are deeply concerned about plastic waste. They feel they should be recycling more and expect companies that use plastic in their products to do more, but those surveyed expressed facing obstacles in taking action," said David Tulauskas, Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer at NWNA. "Since last year's America Recycles Week, we have made an effort to address some of these challenges to help realize a circular economy. We are on track to quadruple our use of recycled plastic across our domestic portfolio and we continue to support organizations that help improve access to recycling and inspire consumers to recycle more."
Creating an End Market for Recycled Plastic
As part of its responsibility as a major producer of packaged goods, NWNA has demonstrated its commitment to use recycled PET plastic (rPET) in its products. With the October 2019 launch of the Nestlé® Pure Life® "DC Collection," along with the introduction of 900-mL bottles of Poland Spring® Brand ORIGIN in April and the Nestlé® Pure Life® 700ml bottle launched in February 2018, NWNA now has three of the only major, nationally distributed bottled water offerings on the market made using 100% recycled plastic. In June, Poland Spring® Brand 100% Natural Spring Water announced its plans to reach 100% recycled plastic across its still water portfolio by 2022, and has already started the transition with their 1 Liter and 1.5 Liter still water sizes being made with 100% recycled plastic.
NWNA works with a number of strategic suppliers to purchase recycled plastic and plans to expand its roster of suppliers to purchase even more recycled plastic to use in its other bottled water brands across the country. This is part of the company's journey to achieve 25% recycled plastic across its U.S. domestic portfolio by 2021, and 50% by 2025.
Designing for Recyclability
NWNA's bottles are designed to be recycled and were never meant for single use. They were intended to be made into new bottles, like its three nationally distributed 100% recycled plastic bottles. In April, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) named NWNA as its 2019 Design for Recycling® (DFR) Award winner for the design of its 100% rPET Nestlé® Pure Life® 700-mL bottle and its specially designed pressure-sensitive label, recognition of its product design centered on recycling. Additionally, NWNA's ReadyRefresh® beverage delivery service has had a reusable and returnable bottle for decades. The ReadyRefresh five-gallon containers are returned, washed and refilled approximately 35 times before they are recycled.
On Wednesday, as part of America Recycles Week, Tulauskas will participate in the ISRI State of Recycling Caucus Briefing to discuss some of the challenges and opportunities related to plastic materials, and what the company is doing to address those issues, including designing for recyclability, investing in recycling and infrastructure, and using recycled plastic. On Thursday, Poland Spring® Brand will be participating in the first annual U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) America Recycles Innovation Fair with an exhibit that showcases recycled plastic packaging innovations and demonstrates the different processing stages of recycled plastic used in these bottles.
Inspiring Consumers to Recycle
Poland Spring® Brand and The Recycling Partnership, a nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming recycling for good in communities across the country, launched the first Instagram recycling hotline to help remove confusion on what is recyclable. Consumers were given an interactive platform to ask what is and what is not recyclable. As part of the partnership, Poland Spring donated $175,000 to The Recycling Partnership to help them improve access to recycling in communities across the country.
In January 2019, NWNA worked with long-time partner Keep America Beautiful to help mobilize affiliate organizations and volunteers across the country to help clean up National Public Parks during the government shut down. Keep America Beautiful is the largest community improvement organization in the U.S. and has been one of the leading organizations to coordinate community recycling events on or around America Recycles Day on November 15.
To get involved in recycling events for America Recycles Day in your community, visit: https://americarecyclesday.org/events/.