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Younger Americans not as ‘green’ as older generations

United States – While conventional wisdom dictates the young are more environmentally-conscious than older generations, latest research suggests this might not be the case.

A survey conducted online among more than 2000 US adults by Harris Poll on behalf of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) reveals that those in the 18-34 age group are significantly less likely to say they always recycle (33%) compared to those of 35 and over (48%).

In addition, the same younger group is less likely to say recycling is critical to reducing energy consumption (36%) when compared to those aged 55-64 (46%), and that recycling will help reduce landfill space (45%) when compared to those aged 45 and above (60%).

Over several decades, communities have tried to make recycling easier through, for example, kerbside pickup, drop-off locations, recycling drives, corporate buy-back programmes and in-store drop-offs for recyclables, notes ISRI president Robin Wiener.

′That is why it is so disappointing and shocking to see young people not fully understanding the value of recycling,′ she says. ′Clearly, more needs to be done both to encourage recycling and better comprehend why younger generations aren′t seeing the energy, environmental and economic benefits that recycling provides.′

According to the poll, Americans would like to see more readily available options to recycle. The vast majority (90%) think that recycling collection sites need to be more readily accessible to consumers. Furthermore, 68% believe manufacturers and/or retailers should pay for recycling programmes when they are not already available to consumers.

In other key findings of the survey, an overwhelming 94% say that they recycle. Some 68% of Americans believe recycling is the right thing to do, but the percentage decreases as age goes down, with only 62% of adults aged 18-34 holding this belief compared to 78% of adults aged 65 and over.

Some 26% say they are not always sure whether an item is recyclable and 6% say they don′t believe the items they set aside for recycling are actually recycled. Younger Americans aged 18-34 are more likely than those aged 35-64 to say they are not always certain if an item is recyclable (33% versus 22%). And 62% of Americans confirm that if a product is not easy or convenient to recycle, they probably would not recycle it.

For more information, visit: www.isri.org

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