Earth Day Intersection: At the Corner of Recycling Knowledge and Behavior

iStock_000018251736SmallWhen cleaning out an old purse, a mom laid on the table three items that were no longer useful: a lipstick with a color that was out-of-date, an old cellphone and some used crayons.  Her first inclination was to throw these in the trash, but a little investigation would tell her that each of these products are, in fact, recyclable.

According to a survey commissioned by Call2Recycle® and conducted online by Harris Poll® among more than 3,000 adults (aged 18 and over) in both the U.S. and Canada in October 2013, nearly three quarters of respondents would have known to recycle their old cellphone, but less than 40 percent would have known to recycle crayons and only 16 percent would have know that cosmetics are recycleable.

When the survey was sent, respondents were provided a list of 20 items and asked to define their recyclability.  Mobile phones, rechargeable batteries and wine corks (thanks Pinterest!) were the most understood recyclables, while items like plastic water bottles with caps, juice boxes and used pizza boxes were among the least understood (i.e., respondents incorrectly identified them as recyclables items).

Call2Recycle also asked respondents to identify the frequency of their recycling.  Of the American and Canadian adults surveyed, 67 percent stated that they recycle at least once per week and 49 percent said they recycle at least once per day.  Only seven percent never recycle.

The survey questions were designed to examine respondents’ knowledge of waste materials and their behaviors associated with recycling.  As North America’s first and largest battery stewardship program, Call2Recycle is excited to see that three of the materials that we recycle—cellphones, rechargeable batteries and single-use batteries—appeared in the top five most understood category.

What do you think – can you recycle hair, surf boards or trophies?  Share your answers on our Facebook page at or on Twitter at and we will let you know if you are right!

Survey Methodology – U.S. & Canada: This survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Call2Recycle both within the U.S. via its QuickQuery product from Oct. 23-25, 2013 among 2,016 adults ages 18 and older and in Canada via its Global Omnibus prod uct from Oct. 22-28, 2013 among 1,127 adults age 18 and older. These online surveys are not based on a probability samples and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. In each country, the data were weighted to reflect the composition of the general adult population. Where combined percentages are noted, these are not weighted, just mathematical averages calculated from each individual countries’ results. For complete survey methodology, please contact Jen Childress at (678) 218-4580 or [email protected].


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