We’ve all been guilty of it–answering “Yes, of course” when asked if your household recycles when in reality, the recycling bin in the garage hasn’t been emptied in months because it isn’t even close to being full. Earth day, April 22, is a day when shoppers are reminded that everything we do impacts the environment and that we should all try to be a little better. So why is it that the average American household recycles just 34% of its waste every year? Well, first, it has to be clear. A third of consumers are unclear on what is actually recyclable and another 20% admit to placing an item in a recycling bin without knowing for sure it’s recyclable. Next, it has to be easy. 62% of Americans say that if a product is not easy or convenient to recycle, they probably won’t recycle it. Behaviorally, this is not shocking. The more hurdles that exist for consumers to do anything, consumers are less and less likely to actually do it.
So how can brands and retailers help consumers kick their non-recycling habits?
Brands can clearly mark recycling codes on packaging so shoppers know definitively what they should do with the product. 68% of consumers say that manufacturers or retailers should pay for recycling programs. Clearly communicating programs and making them accessible goes a long way with shoppers. Best Buy and Target have both rolled out in-store recycling bins to help shoppers get rid of things they don’t know what to with–like all those plastic grocery bags. In fact, 50% of shoppers say they feel better about shopping at retailers with sustainability initiatives. It’s a win-win when brands, retailers, and shoppers work together.