Home News & Features 1 in 4 Americans Recycle All Their Plastic Waste

1 in 4 Americans Recycle All Their Plastic Waste


ITASCA, ILL.—To shed light on the current state of recycling and to help advance the circular economy, Hi-Cone, a leading manufacturer of beverage multi-packaging solutions, presents their first annual report on The State of Plastic Recycling. More than 5,000 consumers in the United States, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and Spain participated in the global survey. Among the many findings, the report shows that 26 percent (or 1 out of 4) Americans recycle all of their plastic waste, compared to the overall 34 percent reported from the other countries. However, at the same time, 19 percent do not recycle any of their plastic waste. Additionally, when compared to their counterparts, Americans were the least likely to think that recycling plastics is beneficial for the environment.

More than half of American adults also reported that they regularly recycle anything in public or at home. However, 52 percent reported that they didn’t know how to recycle some types of plastic. Overall, only 3 percent of adults in the United States, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and Spain believe that everything that is put into recycling bins is recycled. The report makes it clear that there is a lack of global trust in current recycling systems as well as a lack of understanding on how to recycle plastics.

Hi-Cone’s Vice President and General Manager, Shawn Welch, acknowledges the challenges that the packaging industry faces as sustainability has become a major focus. “There is a great need to create a more transparent process and clear guidance for consumers when it comes to the development of a circular economy and better recycling practices. Only by understanding consumer beliefs, national programs and global goals, can the industry make real progress in sustainability.”

Clarity on What Challenges Lie Ahead

The findings of the report aim to provide clarity for the packaging industry, and consumers, on what challenges and opportunities lie ahead on the road to a more sustainable future. “Open communication between the industry and the public will help prevent further environmental risk down the road by stopping the current trend of solving one problem and replacing it with an even bigger one. Better communication will help us find a real solution,” Welch continues, referring to a recent Green Alliance report that warns of the potential environmental risks of banning plastic packaging in favor of other materials that have larger carbon footprints and therefore can be seen as detrimental to the environment.

Hi-Cone’s new Sustainability Director, Jennifer Perr states that, “Our commitment to the circular economy and sustainability is simple: reduce, recycle and reuse: reduce the amount of virgin plastic; recycle with the increase of the creation of better infrastructures; and reuse the plastic.” The specialist has detailed that Hi-Cone has set itself the goal that by the end of 2020 all clients have made the transition to the RingCycles. “We have to stop thinking of plastic as waste and start seeing it as a renewable resource that must be disposed of properly,” Perr clarified.

The report uncovers common consumer misconceptions around packaging and recycling, identifying several starting points for the industry to come together. Hi-Cone has been making strides in its sustainability journey. This includes the formation of several cross-industry partnerships, such as a recycling partnership with Avangard Innovative in the United States and Mexico, and the launch of their +50 percent post-consumer recycled content product, RingCycles, which reduces the company’s use of virgin plastic by half. By releasing the report each year, Hi-Cone aims to provide a consistent and up to date resource of information to support the sustainability efforts of Hi-Cone, the packaging industry and beyond.

The State of Plastic Recycling Report is available in full at www.hi-cone.com/sustainability and is free to access.