Global Survey Reveals Two Thirds of Adults Not Recycling All Plastic Waste

Hi-Cone’s first annual report on The State of Plastic Recycling reveals consumer attitudes towards recycling and the circular economy.

Itasca, Illinois – February 26, 2020. To shed light on the current state of recycling and to help advance the circular economy, Hi-Cone, a leading manufacturer of beverage multi-packaging solutions, presents their first annual report on The State of Plastic Recycling. Findings of the report show that only one-third of adults across four territories reported recycling all of their plastic waste, with over half reporting they found recycling different plastics difficult to understand. Those surveyed also expressed low confidence in the recycling systems in their countries, with over two-thirds reporting to believe only 50% or less of what they put into their recycling bins is actually recycled.

Despite these low levels of plastic recycling, and uncertainty in how to recycle such materials, 75% of adults reported that they regularly recycle in their homes, and 80% of those who do not recycling all of their plastic reported that if they had more facilities and/or guidance, they would recycle more frequently. The findings of the report, conducted by YouGov, not only expose global consumers’ lack of confidence in plastic recycling, but also their eagerness to recycle in general and desire for better guidance on how to do so. Hi-Cone’s Vice President and General Manager, Shawn Welch, acknowledges the challenges the packaging industry faces as sustainability has become a major focus in recent years: “There is a great need to create a more transparent process and clear guidance for consumers when it comes to the development of a circular economy and better recycling practices. Only by understanding consumer beliefs, national programs and global goals, can the industry make real progress in sustainability.”

The State of Plastic Recycling Report surveyed over 5,500 adults across four markets – Mexico, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States — on their behaviours, knowledge and attitudes towards plastic packaging recycling. The report makes clear the uncertainty of consumers as to which materials are better for the environment, with over one-third of adults across all territories reporting to be unsure if it takes more energy and natural resources to recycle plastic than paper. In addition to lack of certainty, consumers also expressed a great lack of confidence in the recycling system, with one-third of those surveyed believing only a quarter of what they put in their recycling bins is actually recycled.

Hi-Cone’s Sustainability Director Jennifer Perr comments on how this report, and others like it, are important for the packaging industry as it works towards a circular economy: “The waste crisis is an issue of both packaging design and a lack of recycling culture and infrastructure. With the help of this report, we can take a look at where the industry can better support consumers with education and resources and start to collaborate with local governments and private recycling partners to improve the recycling system. By working together with consumers and recycling organizations, the industry will be better able to make progress towards creating a circular economy.”

The findings of the report aim to provide clarity for the packaging industry, and for consumers, on what challenges and opportunities lie ahead on the road to a more sustainable future. “Open communication between the industry and the public will help prevent further environmental risk down the road by stopping the current trend of solving one problem and replacing it with an even bigger one. Better communication will help us find a real solution.” Welch continues, referring to a recent Green Alliance report that warns of the potential environmental risks of banning plastic packaging in favour of other materials that have larger carbon footprints and therefore can be seen as detrimental to the environment.

The report uncovers common consumer misconceptions around packaging and recycling, identifying several starting points for the industry to come together. Hi-Cone has been making strides in its own sustainability journey. This includes the formation of several cross-industry partnerships, such as a recycling partnership with TerraCycle® in the UK, and the launch of their +50% post-consumer recycled content product, RingCycles™, which reduces the company’s use of virgin plastic by half. By releasing the report each year, Hi-Cone aims to provide a consistent and up to date resource of information to support the sustainability efforts of Hi-Cone, the packaging industry and beyond.

The State of Plastic Recycling Report is available in full HERE and is free to access.

About Hi-Cone

Hi-Cone is a leading supplier of ring carrier multi-packaging systems for the global Beer & Non-Alcoholic Ready to Drink (NARTD) beverage markets, providing sustainable packaging solutions to major Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) companies. Hi-Cone has set ambitious goals to become 100% recyclable, biodegradable or compostable by 2025. We realize we cannot do this alone and need to work collaboratively with consumers, governments and industry to meet consumers desire to reduce their plastic use and meet the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).

Our aim is to educate consumers on how to reduce plastic consumption and how to recycle all aspects of the circular economy; an economic system aimed at eliminating waste and the continual use of resources. We partner with consumers, retailers and industry experts to make tangible and impactful changes to advance the circular economy through our ongoing innovations in packaging design and material development.

Further Information

Elizabeth Sheaffer
+1 815 275 5266