PLASTICS Survey: Consumers Overwhelmingly Support All Types of Recycling

April 19, 2023

Washington D.C.— A new survey released by the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) indicates that consumers overwhelmingly support all types of recycling when it comes to plastic products or packaging that should be considered “recyclable” or made from “recycled material.” The survey of 1,200 Americans will be submitted to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which is now accepting comment on potential changes to its ‘Green Guides,’ which are intended to provide guidance on how consumers interpret environmental marketing claims.

According to the results of the survey, two-thirds (62%) of Americans believe that single use plastics are important to their quality of life.

“Our goal is to build a more circular economy, and that means enabling consumers to easily find and purchase products and packaging that are designed to be recycled or made from recycled content,” said Matt Seaholm, President and CEO of PLASTICS. “Consumers don’t discriminate against technologies like advanced recycling which enable them to recycle more of the plastic products they use. They want labels or branding to be simple and consistent and are more focused on keeping plastics in a recycling bin and out of the landfill.”

Through the mechanical recycling process, plastic products are cleaned, ground into smaller pieces, and then reformed into new plastic. The advanced recycling process breaks plastic polymers down into smaller molecules that can be used to make new products, including new plastic.

According to a memo from RG Strategies, which conducted the survey from February 22 – 28, “[A] large majority of Americans support advanced recycling and agree that advanced recycling should be considered recycling.”

Among other findings, the survey indicated that more than 9 in 10 Americans see both advanced recycling and mechanical recycling as examples of recycling. It also found that:

  • 90% of Americans care more that a plastic item doesn’t end up in the trash or litter than which process is used to recycle the item.
  • 87% of Americans believe industry and government should do more to support all types of recycling, including advanced recycling.
  • 89% of Americans say that the label of “recycled content” is appropriate for plastics processed by mechanical recycling or advanced recycling.
  • 91% of Americans say that the label “recyclable” is appropriate for products that could be processed by mechanical recycling or advanced recycling.
  • 82% of survey participants agree that it is appropriate to label an item as recyclable if a product can be recycled, even if access to recycling facilities across the country varies.

Consumers also recognize the value of “mass balance” accounting practices, which are used by many industries to track attributes of sustainable feedstocks, such as amount of recycled content, across complex supply chains. In fact, 67% of Americans consider mass balance-certified plastics to be better (21%) or the same (46%) as other recycled content, while only 14% of survey participants disagree.

 Read the full memo from RG Strategies here.

The Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) is the only organization that supports the entire plastics supply chain, including Equipment Suppliers, Material Suppliers, Processors and Recyclers, representing over one million workers in our $468 billion U.S. industry. PLASTICS advances the priorities of our members who are dedicated to investing in technologies that improve capabilities and advances in recycling and sustainability and providing essential products that allow for the protection and safety of our lives. Since 1937, PLASTICS has been working to make its members, and the sixth largest U.S. manufacturing industry, more globally competitive while supporting circularity through educational initiatives, industry-leading insights and events, convening opportunities and policy advocacy, including the largest plastics trade show in the Americas, NPE2024: The Plastics Show