Survey uncovers bathroom recycling gap in the United States: the majority of Americans know what items belong in the bin, yet less than half are always dropping them in
PR Newswire – ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, NJ (April 30, 2015) – With Earth Day celebrations behind us, Unilever is launching a new program, “Rinse. Recycle. Reimagine.” to remind Americans that when it comes to recycling in the bathroom, it should be Earth Day, every day. In a survey announced today, the new Unilever Bathroom Recycling Index found that while a majority of Americans are aware that empty bath and beauty bottles are recyclable, less than half (34%) report always bringing these items to the bin. As a result, common bathroom products like shampoo, body wash and lotion bottles could be more likely to end up in landfills than their kitchen counterparts. This seemingly small problem has a huge impact, with nearly 29 million tons1 of plastics sent to landfills each year – many of which are bottles that once occupied bathrooms across America.
As the company behind many products found in bathrooms across the country – including Dove, Suave®, St. Ives®, Caress® and more – Unilever is stepping in to inspire Americans to step up and recycle their bathroom empties. Developed in partnership with Keep America Beautiful and the Ad Council’s “I Want to Be Recycled” campaign, “Rinse. Recycle. Reimagine.” will feature engaging, socially-driven content aimed at educating Americans on how, through recycling, empty bath and beauty bottles can fuel the development of recycled packaging for new bathroom products, or take on new life to return as hairbrushes, backpacks or even backyard play sets, and inspire Americans to make a small change in their home recycling habits that holds big potential to positively impact the environment.
“Our scale and sheer volume of products present in American bathrooms puts us in a unique position to take on this issue,” said Gina Boswell, Executive Vice President of Personal Care, Unilever North America. “The average American household has eight products in plastic bottles in their bathroom. If we’re able to inspire those millions of people to recycle their empty body wash or lotion bottles, this small action can bring about transformational change.”
To Unilever, “Rinse. Recycle. Reimagine.” is not just a social mission. The program is part of the Unilever brightFuture initiative in support of Unilever’s purpose-driven business model, the Unilever Sustainability Plan (USLP), which aims to increase its positive social impact while reducing its environmental impact. Specifically, while many of Unilever’s bath and beauty products are packaged in recycled material, Unilever has set an aggressive goal to increase the recycled material content in its packaging to maximum possible levels by the year 2020. However, there is currently not enough recycled plastic resin available to do so, and in order to achieve this goal Unilever needs Americans to recycle more – the bathroom is an easy place to start.
“Rinse. Recycle. Reimagine.” is an extension of Keep America Beautiful and the Ad Council’s "I Want To Be Recycled" national communications campaign, created pro bono by San Francisco-based ad agency Pereira & O'Dell and funded by Unilever. The latest phase of the campaign kicked off in March with a series of broadcast and digital PSAs to motivate more Americans to remember to recycle in the bathroom.
“We’re excited to continue the momentum of our campaign and expand the conversation around bathroom recycling with the ‘Rinse. Recycle. Reimagine.’ program,” said Jennifer Jehn, President and CEO, Keep America Beautiful. “Bathroom recycling is a simple, yet often overlooked act. Together with Unilever and the Ad Council, we hope to help turn bathroom recycling into a daily norm.”
Additional Unilever Bathroom Recycling Index Findings
- Fueling the bathroom recycling gap is a combination of confusion, misinformation and a bit of skepticism. While the majority of Americans know where they should be putting their empty bottles, 42% claim that they don’t recycle because they aren’t sure an item is eligible for recycling. Additionally, more than a quarter (27%) of Americans are not convinced their recycled items can actually become something new. To find out what qualifies items for recycling in your area and to find out what your plastic bottles could become, go to iwanttoberecycled.org/bathroom.
- There are quite a few things Americans would do before walking their empty bath and beauty bottles to the recycling bin. One in five (22%) Americans wouldn’t walk across their home to recycle a bath or beauty bottle. In fact, Americans are more likely to go the distance to get a drink when thirsty, charge their phone, or answer a phone call than walk an empty plastic bottle from the bathroom to the recycling bin.
- Some cities have better bathroom recycling habits than others. Of the major U.S. metropolitan cities, Philadelphia came out on top demonstrating the best bathroom recycling habits with 52% reporting that they always recycle in the bathroom, while Atlanta ranked last with only 23% reporting that they always recycle in the bathroom.
Unilever needs help from America to make this change a reality, and is asking people nationwide to step up and join the bathroom recycling movement. Go to brightfuture.unilever.us to learn more, or share a photo of your bathroom recyclables on Twitter or Instagram using #ReimagineThat and #Sweeps for a chance to win reimagined recycled prizes. Daily and grand prizes range from Unilever beauty kits to goods made from recycled plastics like an umbrella or a backpack. By taking simple steps at home – like recycling –Americans can also help the environment and address climate change.
The online survey, commissioned by Unilever, was conducted by KRC Research. The survey was conducted nationwide from March 9-23, 2015, among a demographically representative U.S. sample of 5,516 adults ages 18+.
About Unilever United States, Inc.
Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Food, Refreshments, Home and Personal Care products with sales in more than 190 countries. In the United States, the portfolio includes brand icons such as: Axe, Ben & Jerry’s, Breyers, Caress, Clear Scalp & Hair Therapy, Consort For Men, Country Crock, Degree, Dove personal care products, Fruttare, Good Humor, Hellmann’s, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!, Just for Me!, Klondike, Knorr, Lever 2000, Lipton, Magnum, Motions, Nexxus, Noxzema, Pond’s, Popsicle, Promise, Q-tips, Simple, St. Ives, Suave, Talenti Gelato & Sorbetto, TIGI, TONI&GUY Hair Meet Wardrobe, TRESemmé and Vaseline. All of the preceding brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of the Unilever Group of Companies.
Unilever employs approximately 8,000 people in the United States – generating approximately $8.5 billion in sales in 2014.
Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) aims to double the size of its business, while reducing its overall environmental footprint and increasing positive social impact. The USLP is Unilever’s strategic response to the challenges businesses face operating in an uncertain and volatile world. See more on the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan at http://www.unileverusa.com/sustainable-living/.
Unilever ranked number one in its sector on the 2014 Dow Jones Sustainability Index.
All of Unilever’s global factory network, as well as its US non-manufacturing facilities and dedicated distribution centers, have achieved zero non-hazardous waste to landfill status.
For more information on Unilever US and its brands visit: www.unileverusa.com
To connect with Unilever US via Facebook visit: www.facebook.com/unileverusa
To connect with Unilever US via Twitter follow: @unileverusa
To learn more about taking small actions that can make a big difference visit: https://www.brightfuture.unilever.us
About Keep America Beautiful
Keep America Beautiful is the nation's leading nonprofit that brings people together to build and sustain vibrant communities. With our national network of community-based affiliates, we work with millions of volunteers who take action in their communities to transform public spaces into beautiful places. Through our programs and public-private partnerships, we engage individuals to take greater responsibility for improving their community's environment. Learn how you can donate or take action at kab.org, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, or view us on YouTube.
About Ad Council
The Ad Council is a private, non-profit organization with a rich history of marshaling volunteer talent from the advertising and media industries to deliver critical messages to the American public. Having produced literally thousands of PSA campaigns addressing the most pressing social issues of the day, the Ad Council has affected, and continues to affect, tremendous positive change by raising awareness, inspiring action and saving lives. To learn more about the Ad Council and its campaigns, visit Adcouncil.org, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or view our PSAs on YouTube.
About KRC Research and the Survey:
KRC Research is a global public opinion research firm. KRC Research conducted a nationally representative online survey of 5,516 American adults ages 18+ from March 9-23, 2015 to gauge consumer awareness and knowledge of bathroom-specific recycling topics and behaviors; explore the frequency of recycling personal care items in bathrooms; and understand what drives and will drive consumers to recycle their eligible bathroom items. 1,000 of the interviews were conducted among a nationally representative sample of Americans. An additional 300 interviews were conducted in each of the 15 following DMAs: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Francisco-Oak San Jose, Boston, Washington DC, Atlanta, Houston, Detroit, Seattle-Tacoma, Phoenix, Tampa-St. Petersburg, and Minneapolis.
1 Source: Based on the latest 2012 data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that 28.95MM tons of non-recovered plastics discarded to landfills in 2012 (Environmental Protection Agency, 2012), http://www.epa.gov/wastes/nonhaz/municipal/pubs/2012_msw_fs.pdf
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