Three-Quarters (76%) of Americans Have Recycled Everyday, Household Items like Aluminum Cans (76%) or Plastic Bottles (72%), While Less than One-Third Recycle Electronic Items Like Single-Use (31%) or Rechargeable Batteries (26%) and Cell Phones (27%)

Nine in Ten (92%) Americans ‘Agree’, However, That Recycling is Important for the Earth and for Future Generations

Friday, October 12, 2012

Toronto, ON – Americans are more likely to recycle everyday, household items compared to electronic items, according to a new poll conducted by Ipsos Marketing on behalf of Call2Recycle. Three-quarters of Americans say they’ve recycled aluminum or steel cans (76%) or plastic bottles or containers (72%) in the past year, while another seven in ten (71%) have recycled paper or cardboard in the past year.

When it comes to regularly-used electronic items, however, like batteries and cell phones, Americans are much less likely to have recycled such items. Only three in ten (31%) Americans say they’ve recycled single-use batteries in the past year, while only one-quarter (26%) have done so for rechargeable batteries. Only one-quarter (27%) of Americans have recycled their cell phone in the past year. The following table outlines in full the products Americans say they have recycled in the past year:

(Click to enlarge image)

While Americans recycle certain products more than others, there is no denying that most Americans believe it is important to recycle. More than nine in ten (92%) recyclers ‘agree’ that ‘recycling is important for the Earth’ and that ‘recycling is an important lesson for future generations’. Eight in ten (84%) ‘agree’ that ‘it is their civic duty to recycle’. Two-thirds (67%) ‘agree’ that ‘they would consider themselves to be ‘Green’’, while only two in ten (21%) ‘agree’ that they ‘only recycle because other people do it’. Below is a complete list of how much Americans agree on matters pertaining to the importance of recycling:

  • Recycling is important for the Earth – 92%
  • Recycling is an important lesson for future generation – 92%
  • I feel good about myself for recycling – 86%
  • I know where to go to recycle different things – 85%
  • It is important to reduce our carbon footprint – 84%
  • It is my civic duty to recycle – 84%
  • I keep up-to-date on what types of things can be recycled – 78%
  • The town I live in promotes recycling/makes it easy to recycle – 77%
  • I consider myself to be ‘Green’ – 67%
  • I only recycle be other people do it – 21%

Although most Americans appear to agree that recycling is important, there is still the large disparity who don’t recycle their electronic goods. Perhaps the reason why is that it isn’t as easy as putting them in a blue bin out on the curb, often times electronic goods have to be brought to stores to be recycled.

Those who do recycle batteries and cell phones cite convenience (64% average based on 9 retail locations), that they visit the store regularly or like to shop there (36% average), or there is an easy-to-find recycling kiosk within the store (28% average). Once in a store, customers learn about recycling these products most from signs at the store (51% average) followed by a store associate or employee (26% average), flyers or circulars at the store (24% average), and the store’s website (24% average). Customers learn the least about recycling at these stores, however, through email from the store (9% average).

The main reason that people who have not recycled single-use/rechargeable batteries or cell phones in the past year is that ‘they haven’t had the need’ to (43%). Another four in ten (37%) say they ‘didn’t know where’ to recycle these items. One-quarter (24%) ‘didn’t know they could’ recycle items like cell phones and batteries, while two in ten (15%) ‘thought that they had to go to a special place to recycle them’. 4% ‘thought they could only recycle them once a year at a special place’ or provided some other reason.

Many who haven’t recycled such items in the past year, however, say they are likely to do so in the future. Two-thirds say they are ‘likely’ to recycle single-use batteries (67%) and cell phones (66%), while six in ten (60%) are ‘likely’ to recycle rechargeable batteries in the future. One-quarter (24%) appear indifferent to recycling rechargeable batteries in the future, while two in ten feel the same about single-use batteries (22%) and cell phones (21%). Two in ten (16%) Americans say it’s ‘unlikely’ they will recycle rechargeable batteries in the future, while one in ten say the same about cell phones (13%) and single-use batteries (11%).

Those committed to making recycling a priority need to find new ways to motivate people to recycle their batteries and cell phones. Three in ten (31%) say incentive programs like cash back, rebates or coupons, or discounts on products would motivate people to recycle their batteries and cell phones. Two in ten (20%) say that either providing information on where to recycle and the benefits and importance of recycling would motivate them to recycle these products, while another two in ten (19%) say that they could be motivated by making recycling batteries and phones more convenient, through curbside pickup, as an example. 15% could be motivated by better advertisements, whether it be in-store or on TV.

Figuring out solutions to get more to recycle batteries and phones in stores is beneficial for these stores as well and not just beneficial for the environment. An average of 10% say they just go to these stores to drop off recyclables and leave. 37%, on average, say they shop for other types of items at these stores while an average of 32% say they buy replacement batteries or cell phones that they’ve just recycled. An average of 18% say they shop for items that require batteries after dropping off their recyclables, while 49%, on average, browse around the store.

Being able to recycle batteries and cell phones at these stores also has an effect on customer perception of these stores. 63% of respondents, on average, were more positive towards a store that offers a take-back program for these items. An average of 34% of respondents say these programs have no impact on their perceptions of the store, while 2% of respondents, on average, say that these programs had a negative impact on their perception of the store.

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos Reid poll conducted between May 22nd and June 25th, 2012, on behalf of the Call2Recycle. A sample of 1,000 Americans from Ipsos' Americans online panel was interviewed online, and 506 battery/cell phone recyclers in retail stores and 325 general recyclers were asked to answer a 20-minute attitude and usage survey. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls are calculated using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to +/- 3.5 percentage points of all Americans in the general population, +/- 5 percentage points for battery/cell phone recyclers in retail stores, and +/- 6.2 percentage points for general recyclers. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error. For more information on credibility intervals, please visit the Ipsos website at

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Mark Essery
Vice President
Ipsos Reid

About Ipsos Reid

Ipsos Reid is Canada's market intelligence leader, the country's leading provider of public opinion research, and research partner for loyalty and forecasting and modelling insights. With operations in eight cities, Ipsos Reid employs more than 600 research professionals and support staff in Canada. The company has the biggest network of telephone call centres in the country, as well as the largest pre-recruited household and online panels. Ipsos Reid's marketing research and public affairs practices offer the premier suite of research vehicles in Canada, all of which provide clients with actionable and relevant information. Staffed with seasoned research consultants with extensive industry-specific backgrounds, Ipsos Reid offers syndicated information or custom solutions across key sectors of the Canadian economy, including consumer packaged goods, financial services, automotive, retail, and technology & telecommunications. Ipsos Reid is an Ipsos company, a leading global survey-based market research group.

To learn more, please visit

About Ipsos

Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. In October 2011 Ipsos completed the acquisition of Synovate. The combination forms the world’s third largest market research company.

With offices in 84 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across six research specializations: advertising, customer loyalty, marketing, media, public affairs research, and survey management.

Ipsos researchers assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media and they measure public opinion around the globe.

Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of €1,363 billion (1.897 billion USD) in 2011.

Visit to learn more about Ipsos’ offerings and capabilities.

Three-Quarters (76%) of Americans Have Recycled Everyday, Household Items like Aluminum Cans (76%) or Plastic Bottles (72%), While Less than One-Third Recycle Electronic Items Like Single-Use (31%) or Rechargeable Batteries (26%) and Cell Phones (27%)


Mark Essery
Vice President
Ipsos Reid
(973) 658-1709