What terminology, instructions, and images most effectively increase quality recycling of foodservice packaging?
Through a recent web-based survey, the Foodservice Packaging Institute attempted to answer that question. The survey sought to learn where residents get recycling information and the impact of language on recycling behavior.
“The FPI survey aimed to recreate the moment when a resident decides to recycle an item,” says Lynn Dyer, President of FPI. “We showed survey participants photos of cups, containers, boxes, and bags to find out how language on foodservice packaging material impacts people’s curbside behavior.”
Key takeaways from the survey included the importance of using:
- Common language, rather than industry jargon, when describing recycling materials (e.g., calling an item a “plastic container,” not a “clamshell container”)
- Clear, easy-to-understand words when providing instruction, such as “empty” and “clean”
- Visuals that are grouped by materials to emphasize acceptable recycling practices
The online survey was completed by 1,000 homeowners, making it a statistically significant national sample. The survey had an even distribution of male and female respondents. Overall, 51% of respondents said a city, county, or recycling company’s website was the most relied-upon source for seeking recycling information. Respondents ages 18 to 34 also preferred the website, with social media as a strong second choice.
“As more communities consider adding foodservice packaging to their recycling programs, we wanted to develop valuable guidance for recycling coordinators and residents,” says Dyer. “The results of this survey will help us do just that.”
FPI partnered with Keep America Beautiful and The Recycling Partnership to present a recent webinar to review the survey findings.