For many of us, recycling is becoming second nature, but not all packaging is treated equally. While 56 percent of Americans recycle kitchen items, only 14 percent recycle their personal care product bottles and packaging. And according to Johnson & Johnson (J&J), 34 percent of regular recyclers admit that bathroom recycling has never even occurred to them.
In an effort to make consumers more mindful and boost recycling, thereby diverting valuable materials from landfill, Johnson & Johnson introduced the Care to Recycle recycling awareness campaign in 2014. The campaign offers an array of tips, tools and information to help consumers become better recyclers — including ideas on how to engage kids in the recycling process and a comprehensive list of Johnson & Johnson products that can be recycled. The brand also teamed up with CVS.com to offer free recycling bins, after a consumer study revealed that consumers would be more likely to recycle if they had a bin in the bathroom.
In 2016, J&J expanded its campaign by sharing new, creative Do-It-Yourself craft projects and ‘hacks’ for making bathroom recycling easier, and helping parents educate their kids around recycling personal care products. The move was the result of a survey that showed 60 percent of parents believed they would be more likely to discuss recycling with their children if it became an activity they could do together and if they had more engaging ways to explain the impact of recycling.
Three years after its launch, the campaign is proving to be a success. A study done with one of the Care to Recycle program partners in 2014 demonstrated that nearly half of respondents who completed a Care to Recycle program element (e.g. a quiz, slide show, etc.) reported increasing their recycling efforts in the bathroom. And over half reported increasing recycling efforts overall.
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At the end of 2015, another online study demonstrated that exposure to the Care to Recycle digital campaign had a direct positive impact on both intent to recycle personal care products and an overall increase in recycling efforts.
Garnier and Unilever are other examples of brands ramping up their efforts to encourage more Americans to recycle in the bathroom. Earlier this month, Garnier, in partnership with DoSomething.org, launched the Rinse, Recycle, Repeat campaign and college campus competition to educate young consumers about the importance of recycling beauty product empties. And last summer, Unilever reprised its Rinse.Recycle.Reimagine program, a behavior change campaign that invites consumers to #RethinkRecycling with the aid of playful imagery of the brand’s bathroom products bearing signs reading “end bottle bias” and reminding consumers that they are recyclable too.