New Study Reveals that Self-Described ‘Eco-Conscious’ Millennials Don’t Regularly Recycle Their Old Electronics

Three in Four Millenials (74%) Identify Barriers Preventing them from Recycling their Obsolete Electronics

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Toronto, ON – A new survey conducted by Ipsos Reid on behalf of Ontario Electronic Stewardship (OES) reveals that while most millennials see themselves as eco-conscious and avid recyclers of most reusable products, few recycle one of their major daily items: their used electronics.

While more than six in ten (62%) consider themselves to be ‘environmentally conscious’, many do not practice this consciousness. Half (50%) of 18-29 year old Ontarians (often coined as ‘millennials’) recognize they should recycle their out-of-use electronics, although fewer than a quarter (22%) have actually recycled these products within the past year.

In fact, when it comes to the likelihood of recycling different items, old electronics is at the bottom of the list. Millennials are more apt to be very likely to recycle plastic water bottles (80%), wine or beer bottles (76%), paper products (76%), and old clothing (51%) compared to old electronics (40%). Out-of-use electronics are more likely to have been stored at home (30%) or reused (39%) by someone who might know how to reuse them.

Among millennials who hang on to their electronics, half (47%) say they’ll need them as a back-up one day, while one in ten (10%) hang onto them for sentimental attachments or memories. Nearly one in four (22%) have no idea why they are holding on to them.

Despite this apparent apathy, a majority (66%) of millenials are in agreement, however, that environmental damage from improper disposal of electronic equipment is a concern to them, mainly because of pollution (34%) and filling up landfills (23%).

Barriers to Recycling…

It’s not that all millennials do not want to recycle their old electronics. Rather, they identify many barriers to doing so. Three in four (74%) indicate there is something that prevents them from recycling electronics, while a quarter (26%) say nothing is stopping them. The top three barriers that prevent millennials from recycling their electronics include inconvenient drop off locations (40%), not knowing where to go to get disposal information (28%), and the worry about their stored personal information getting into the wrong hands (25%).

Other Findings…

  • Most respondents had a laptop (92%), smartphone (79%), or a printer/scanner (72%)
  • Interestingly, when given a choice to give up one or the other for 24 hours, more than one in ten (14%) say they would rather give up food for a full day than give up their phone

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos Reid poll conducted between March 10th to 13th, 2014, on behalf of the Ontario Electronic Stewardship (OES). For this survey, a sample of 500 Ontarians, aged 18-29, from Ipsos' Canadian online panel was interviewed online. 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 is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within +/-5.0 percentage points had all millennials in Ontario been surveyed.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Will Daley
Vice President
Ipsos Reid
Public Affairs
(613) 688-8979

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.

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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. Ipsos ranks third in the global research industry.

With offices in 86 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across six research specializations: advertising, customer loyalty, marketing, media, public affairs research, and survey management.

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New Study Reveals that Self-Described ‘Eco-Conscious’ Millennials Don’t Regularly Recycle Their Old Electronics

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Mike Colledge
President / Président, Canada
Ipsos Public Affairs
+1 613 688 8971