New Research Details High Consumer Confusion Around Plastics Recycling

November 10, 2022

Republic Services Addresses Misconceptions in Time for America Recycles Day

PHOENIX, Nov. 10, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- According to a new survey from Republic Services (NYSE: RSG), a leader in the environmental services industry, despite high confidence levels in their knowledge, most consumers lack an understanding of proper recycling practices, particularly for plastics. In fact, confusion about which plastics should be recycled is leading some to forgo it altogether – at a time when demand for recycled plastics has never been stronger.

As major brands set ambitious targets for recycled content in their packaging and states adopt minimum recycled content standards the demand for high-quality recycled plastics will only grow – but the current supply of the right types of recycled plastics falls short. November 15 is America Recycles Day and to mark the day, Republic Services is sharing information to help address plastics recycling misconceptions and educate consumers on recycling best practices.

"America Recycles Day is an opportunity for everyone to brush up on their knowledge of proper recycling," said Pete Keller, vice president of recycling and sustainability. "Republic Services is committed to helping consumers understand which common plastic items can be recycled, helping to meet demand and advance the circular economy for the long term."

The survey analyzed the recycling knowledge and habits of more than 2,000 U.S. consumers1. While nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents said they know what types of plastics can be recycled, 61% incorrectly believe flexible plastics, including grocery bags and bubble wrap, are recyclable in their curbside bins.

As for recycling habits, water bottles, milk jugs and laundry detergent jugs are some of the most widely acceptable recyclables, yet consumers aren't always recycling them. When asked about which items they consistently recycle:

  • 62% of consumers recycle water bottles
  • 51% recycle milk jugs
  • 43% recycle laundry detergent jugs

Republic Services is committed to educating consumers on the proper ways to recycle so good intentions aren't wasted. When recycling plastics:

  • Focus on recycling hard plastics, such as bottles, jugs and tubs, that are labeled #1, #2 or #5
  • Do not recycle flexible plastics, including grocery bags, plastic wrappers or bubble wrap
  • Do not bag your recyclables
  • Always ensure recyclables are empty, clean and dry
  • Always remember to check with your service provider on what they accept, as recycling materials vary by location

For more information about America Recycles Day and tips and tricks to improve recycling habits, visit

About Republic Services

Republic Services, Inc. is a leader in the environmental services industry. Through its subsidiaries, the Company provides customers with the most complete set of products and services, including recycling, solid waste, special waste, hazardous waste, container rental and field services. Republic's industry-leading commitments to advance circularity, reduce emissions and decarbonize operations are helping deliver on its vision to partner with customers to create a more sustainable world. For more information, please visit

(480) 757-9770

1This study is based on a Republic Services & Atomik Research survey of more than 2,000 U.S. consumers fielded between September 21-27, 2022.


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SOURCE Republic Services, Inc.