DS Smith, the sustainable packaging provider, has released a survey showing that as consumers remain buried with “bunting and bows” during the holidays, they strongly support recycling and want more options when it comes to reducing landfill waste.
The company also said shoppers are committed to recycling packages but admit that they sometimes resort to bad habits when their at-home recycling bins are full. The survey was conducted in October and resulted in 1,000 respondents in the U.S.
The poll found that 70 percent of consumers “say their recycling bins are mostly full, full, or overflowing by the time collection day comes around.” The authors of the report said when household bins are fully loaded before being picked up, 20 of those polled “say they throw extra recyclable material into the regular trash, meaning it needlessly could end up in a landfill.”
The poll also found that 40 percent of respondents “even stash it in a neighbor’s bin.”
The research revealed the growing importance of sustainable practices with consumers. DS Smith said more than 40 percent of those polled “say they are recycling more today than two years ago, and 80 percent say the sustainability of packaging matters to them.”
Respondents described waste as a significant problem, “with two out of three respondents saying they are concerned with the amount of waste they produce.”
According to Dumpsters.com, the U.S. recycles about 32 percent of its waste, which is significantly higher than the single-digit rates of two decades ago. But the U.S. lags behind many other countries. For example, the U.K. and France recycle 44 and 46 percent of their waste, respectively, while Denmark and Italy have rates of 52 and 55 percent, respectively. South Korea, Germany and Slovenia have the highest recycling rates, of 65, 67 and 72 percent, respectively.
Regarding options and improvements, 60 percent of respondents said their recycling containers are not large enough to meet their needs. And about 40 percent of those polled “say they are running out of room in their recycling bin at least every two weeks,” the authors of the report said, adding that the survey results “underscore the pressure on consumers, local governments responsible for trash collection and product suppliers to follow practices that encourage recycling, help reduce waste and keep materials in use for as long as possible.”
What’s behind this welling of waste? The authors of the report said the waste generated in households that needs to be recycled “has grown in part due to the rise in e-commerce that accelerated during the pandemic.” DS Smith said two-thirds of those polled “reported an increase in the number of packages they are receiving now, compared to before the COVID-19 crisis.”
This trend will likely continue as consumers remain fixed on shopping online.
Keith Tornes, managing director of paper, forestry and recycling, North America, at DS Smith, said, “There is a real appetite among consumers to recycle, but any recycling system needs to be fit for purpose — e-commerce has grown, and now we need to see investment in domestic recycling systems grow to match it.”
For its part, DS Smith said while paper-based packaging solutions are easy to recycle by nature, the company is using its “Circular Design Metrics to help identify areas in packaging with potential for improvement. This focus on innovation means designing out packaging waste, replacing plastics, and ultimately reducing the amount of material that needs to be processed in a recycling plant.”