Recycle Coach Issues Survey to Gauge Residents’ Recycling Knowledge Nationwide

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Recycle Coach wanted to find out how many people know what their districts do and do not accept in their recycling program. The results were not what they expected.

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37% of Canadians think recycling programs accept paper towels, when no program currently accepts them.

Recycle Coach is a company that is revamping the recycling landscape by educating residents through its mobile app. The Recycle Coach app is an integral part of a complete recycling educational platform focused on engaging entire communities to become more knowledgeable about recycling.

Data suggests that the costs associated with recycling in the past were significantly lower than disposal, but are now up to 5x higher. This shift can be attributed to contamination, which refers to all the items people put in their recycling bin that don’t belong. Contamination rates can be as high as 40% in municipalities across North America, threatening the continuation of local recycling programs.

The company has just completed a national survey of its users to gauge the level of awareness regarding what their local recycling programs accept or do not accept. This data is being used to distribute more educational content to residents about their programs to help municipalities lower their contamination rates and increase the amount of viable recovered materials.

A survey was conducted by Recycle Coach that targeted commonly misunderstood materials.
The results of the survey show whether or not Canadian residents are aware if these various items are accepted for recycling by their respective districts.

In Canada when participants were asked about commonly disposed of plastic products, it was surprising to see that approximately 50% of the respondents did not know whether or not their district offered the option to recycle clear plastic food containers, prescription medicine bottles, or Tupperware containers. Almost 30% were unsure if they were able to recycle plastic cutlery, Styrofoam containers, and plastic zip storage bags. Although the number of people who knew they could recycle plastic bottles was more than 80%, this is still considered less than ideal given how commonly plastic bottles are accepted.

When asked about paper products, the results were slightly better. Yet a significant percentage of respondents were still unaware of whether or not they could recycle various types of paper waste in their specific program; including paper trays, paper coffee cups, post-it notes, etc. It is troubling to see that 37% of Canadians think recycling programs accept paper towels, when no program currently accepts them. It is interesting to note that only 67% of respondents knew the correct disposal methods for paper coffee cups. Disposable coffee cups are only accepted in a select number of areas due to their plastic lining, so this lack of understanding about how to properly dispose of them can lead to both high rates of contamination or conversely, loss of viable recyclable materials—depending on the location.

There is a significant information gap between residents and their districts when it comes to recycling other household items like old cell phones, light bulbs, and ceramic flower pots. 15% of residents were unaware of the correct disposal method for these types of items. Only 51% of Canadian residents knew if empty metal paint cans were accepted or not in their local program. While no locations accept glass drinkware, 23% thought that they could recycle this material. Shockingly, 35% of Canadians think bubble mailers are accepted for recycling when they are not.

Residents from participating districts were also asked a series of questions to gauge their mindset regarding recycling practices. Although the majority of respondents do believe that recycling has a positive impact on the environment, there seems to be a lack of understanding of the correct way to recycle their products. Additionally, 98% of the participants have the opinion that workplaces should take on the responsibility to encourage proper onsite recycling.

There is still a need to educate the public about the correct disposal of waste. Despite there being a willingness to recycle, many Canadians still struggle with the proper recycling information for their locations. Recycle Coach has been working to increase the amount of recycling education available to residents through their mobile app. Recycling correctly will help lower recycling costs, in turn lowering the amount of tax dollars spent on correcting contamination in recycling programs.

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April Mandusic