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Environmental Protection & Preservation

23% of Americans Do Not Recycle in Their Own Home

While an impressive three-quarters (77%) of American adults recycle something in their own home, one-quarter (23%) still recycle nothing at all. One may think that the younger generation is the one most likely to recycle, but this is not the case. Three in ten (30%) Echo Boomers (those aged 18 to 30) recycle nothing, compared to 19 percent of Matures (those aged 62 and older).

There is also a regional difference in who recycles and who does not. Those in the East and West are more likely to recycle (88% and 86% respectively). One-third (32%) of those in the South as well as three in ten (30%) of those in the Midwest, however, say they recycle nothing.

These are some of the results of a Harris Poll of 2,372 adults surveyed online between June 5 and 11, 2007 by Harris Interactive. This survey was conceived and developed by Harris Interactive and was not commissioned by any organization; however, we sought and received valuable input from the Food Marketing Institute.

What Is Recycled?

When it comes to recycling, two-thirds of adults (67%) say they recycle aluminum or metal cans, while three in five (59%) recycle paper and 57 percent recycle plastic. Just over half of adults (54%) recycle glass. While those in the South are recycling less than the other regions in general, this is especially true with regard to some of these items. Just half (50%) of Southerners are recycling paper while under half (46%) of Southerners recycle plastic and just 39 percent recycle glass.

Why Don't They Recycle?

Among those who do not recycle, the reasons are very varied. One in six (15%) say they do not recycle because it is not available in their area while 12 percent each say it takes too much effort and it costs more to recycle where they live. Just one in ten (11%) say they do not recycle because they don't believe it makes a difference while six percent say they are too busy and five percent say it is too difficult.

Southerners might be more inclined to recycle if it was cheaper and actually available. One in five (20%) of those who live in the South do not recycle because it isn't available in their area, while an additional 14 percent say it is because it costs more where they live. For those in the East who do not recycle, laziness may be the reason. One-quarter of Easterners (26%) say they do not recycle because it takes too much effort.

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