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Americans Polled on Definition of Recyclable

Posted: May 1, 2008
According to a new poll released by the Glass Packaging Institute, 54% of Americans believe that a packaging material can be recycled to its original use "an unlimited number of times" to be considered "recyclable." In contrast, 41% of Americans believe a package is "recyclable" if it can be repackaged from one form into another, eventually ending up in a landfill. The poll of 1,000 respondents was conducted April 18-21 by Opinion Research for the Glass Packaging Institute (GPI). It has a margin of error of +/- 3%.

The poll results were released by GPI during the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) public workshop "Green Guides and Packaging" on April 30. With the recent public interest in the environmental impact of products, including packaging, the FTC is revisiting its environmental marketing guidelines, also known as "Green Guides."

"We believe these poll results show that Americans want stringent guidelines for recycling and do not want those standards to be 'watered down'," said Joe Cattaneo, president of the Glass Packaging Institute. "In recent years, there have been efforts within the packaging industry to change the definition of the term 'recyclable' to include materials that are really 'downcycled,' changed from one form into another. It is important that the FTC understand that most Americans know the difference and don't want to see the standards loosened further."

The poll also showed that more than three out of four adults (77%) believe that more than 50% of a package should be able to be reprocessed to its original form to be considered "recyclable." Overall, a full one-third (33%) thought that 100% of a package should be able to be reprocessed to its original form to be considered "recyclable."