New Research on Recycling Availability and Utilization

October 04, 2016


The Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC), along with 13 other packaging and recycling industry representatives, recently completed its annual study of the availability of recycling programs in the United States. The research tests recycling program acceptance of 49 different types of packaging, giving manufacturers a view into which materials are being recycled and which are ending up in a landfill.

Here are a few key findings from the report:

  • Curbside recycling programs are available to 73% of the U.S. population.
  • 53% of the population has curbside recycling “automatically” provided at their home.
  • Of this group, about one-third are estimated to elect to participate in the programs.
  • 21% of the population only has drop-off recycling programs.

Download the full report here.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) set standards that must be met in order to label a product or packaging as “recyclable.” These standards include a strong likelihood that the package will be recycled and that collection, sorting and recycling process exists for the packaging material. The FTC recommends that in order to be classified as recyclable, 60% of the population should have access to programs that will collect and recycle the item.

For materials like corrugated paper, with established recycling programs, that threshold is a given. That is why we used the stuff to make a totally recyclable, totally amazing cardboard snowboard!

Read the behind-the-scenes story on how it was created in our Premium Content section.

Other materials, like polystyrene, don’t quite make the FTC threshold. Knowing where the materials measure against the 60% goal is necessary to make recycling claims on your packaging. And environmentally-conscious customers want to see their packaging recycled, so making this as easy as possible helps your brand connect on these shared values.
Want to learn more about green thinking in packaging? Download our Ernest Packaging Solutions Sustainability Brochure (PDF) and see what initiatives and leadership we are providing in this area. We are ready and waiting to take on any custom package design or logistical challenge—give us a call!