Carton Council of North America shows 94% respondents believe recycling is important

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Carton Council of North America shows 94% respondents believe recycling is important

March 08, 2018 - 01:07
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DENTON, TX, March 8, 2018 (Press Release) -Americans are recycling their food and beverage cartons more than ever and continue to look to brands to actively help drive the recycling of their products’ packages, according to a new survey by the Carton Council of North America.

The national survey of more than 6,900 U.S. adults showed that 61 percent of respondents report they always recycle their food and beverage cartons, up 11 percent from when the survey was last conducted two years ago.

“The survey findings highlight that as more Americans have gained access to food and beverage carton recycling, awareness that cartons are recyclable has also increased,’’ said Jason Pelz, vice president of recycling projects for the Carton Council of North America and vice president, environment, for Tetra Pak Americas. “This validates that the widespread consumer education conducted by companies and brands, local communities, as well as our own campaigns, is working and gives us great motivation to continue driving our efforts.”

Consumers have high expectations for the brands they purchase. Fifty-six percent said their loyalty to a food or beverage brand is impacted by the brand’s engagement with environmental causes. The survey also found that consumers overwhelmingly expect food and beverage brands to be committed to recycling. More than nine out of 10 (92 percent) said brands should take an active role in helping to increase the recycling of packages, up slightly from 2016.

A product’s packaging continues to be a key factor in determining whether an item is recyclable. The survey showed that packaging remains the top source for determining recyclability (47 percent), while friends and family as well as the news gained momentum. There was a 16-percentage-point increase in family and friends as a source for recycling (34 percent) and a 17-percentage-point increase in the news as a source (29 percent) from 2016. Notable, nearly two-thirds (65 percent) said that if a package did not have a recycling symbol or language indicating the item is recyclable, they would assume it is not recyclable.

Additionally, consumers’ belief that recycling is important is at an all-time high. A total of 94 percent of survey participants said recycling is important and people should do what they can to recycle, up from 90 percent two years ago. And nearly three-quarters of respondents (74 percent) believe people should make recycling a priority, up significantly from 61 percent during the last survey.

“Consumers increasingly believe that recycling is important and are looking to companies and brands to help,” said Pelz. “This provides an opportunity for brands to become even more engaged in recycling and consumer education.”

As of January 2017, food and beverage cartons can carry the standard “Please Recycle’’ logo based on the milestone that more than 60 percent of U.S. households have access to carton recycling, a threshold set by the Federal Trade Commission green guidelines for packaging.

The Carton Council formed in 2009 with the goal of increasing recycling of aseptic and gable-top cartons used for many common food and beverage products, such as milk, juice, water, broth, soups, wine, snacks and beans. At the time, just 18 percent of U.S. households could recycle cartons through their local recycling programs. Now, more than 62 percent of homes have access, representing 72.6 million households in 13,350 communities. 


Findings from the research are based on a survey of 6,936 interviews conducted by Research+Data Insights. The survey included a nationally representative sample of Americans who reported access to curbside recycling programs in their area. Recruitment was conducted for those in each state with 30 percent or greater access to curbside carton recycling. Responses were collected online in December 2017.


The Carton Council is composed of four leading carton manufacturers, Elopak, SIG Combibloc, Evergreen Packaging and Tetra Pak, as well as an associate member, Nippon Dynawave Packaging. Formed in 2009, the Carton Council works to deliver long-term collaborative solutions to divert valuable cartons from the landfill. Through a united effort, the Carton Council is committed to building a sustainable infrastructure for carton recycling nationwide and works toward their continual goal of adding access to carton recycling throughout the U.S.