Press Release /

Can I Recycle That? Most Americans Look to Packaging First to Determine Recyclability

DENTON, Texas, Nov. 7, 2022 – For companies and brands looking to improve the likelihood their package gets recycled this America Recycles Day, new research reinforces the critical importance of recycling information included on packaging. According to research commissioned by the Carton Council of North America, the vast majority of consumers (75%) said they would assume a package is NOT recyclable if it does not contain a recycling logo or recycling information on it. Further reinforcing the power of the package, the research also reveals that the package remains the top source (50%) for recycling information, followed by local community websites (41%).

While product packaging and city websites remain the most relied upon source for recyclability information, other areas are gaining in importance, including social media, news, influencers and advocacy groups.

Placing an impetus on recycling education, most consumers (74%) said that knowing a brand’s packaging is recyclable increases the likelihood they will purchase it over another, comparable product. Additionally, many respondents (60%) indicate their loyalty to food and beverage products is impacted by the brand’s engagement with environmental causes.

“Many consumers want to do the right thing and recycle all they can, but it’s not always clear what’s recyclable – both in general and in their neighborhood,” said Larine Urbina, director of communications for the Carton Council. “Ensuring recycling information is on every recyclable package is a first step. But we also know that recycling varies from community to community, so consumers should always check with their local programs to see what they can recycle where they live.”

Recognizing there are still residential recycling programs in the U.S. that do not yet accept food and beverage cartons, the Carton Council is launching its new address locator at While the Carton Council continues its efforts to grow the infrastructure so food and beverage cartons are accepted in more communities across the country, it’s important to provide consumers with a tool so they can easily check to see if cartons are accepted in their local program. Currently, more than 61% of the U.S. has carton recycling access, representing more than 71.6 million households.

The survey also revealed that support of recycling continues to grow among consumers with 76% reporting that recycling is important and people should try to make it a priority, a 25% increase since the question was first asked in 2015. An additional 19% said they believe recycling is somewhat important and people should do what they can to try to recycle.

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The Carton Council is composed of four leading carton manufacturers, Elopak, Pactiv Evergreen, SIG and Tetra Pak. Formed in 2009, the Carton Council works to deliver long-term collaborative solutions in order to divert valuable cartons from the landfill. Through a united effort, the Carton Council is committed to building a sustainable infrastructure for carton recycling nationwide and works toward their continual goal of adding access to carton recycling throughout the U.S.

Made primarily out of paper, a renewable, plant-based material, cartons contain some of the highest quality fiber available in the recycling stream. Cartons are lightweight and compact and come in two kinds: refrigerated cartons that store, milk, juice and egg substitutes; and shelf-stable cartons that can safely package and store items for long periods of time such as, soups, broths, milks, juice, tomatoes and even wine.