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How recycling habits can influence the industry

Market research. Consumer trends. Predictive analytics. These are just a few of the data points that industries use to predict and shape their business. At the center of the discussion: consumer behavior and habits. Ultimately, consumers can influence the adoption of a product or service. Recycling is a timely example.

Generally speaking, consumers develop habits based on motivators. Be it brand loyalty for a clothing line, a grocery store that’s convenient or, like the act of recycling, a positive sense of contribution. For any one of these acts to work, there is always a ‘why’ and ‘how’ involved. For recycling, the ‘why’ is easy.

 

Recycling benefits are plentiful and include:

• Reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators
• Conserving natural resources
• Preventing pollution when mining new raw materials 1

Further fueling the ‘why’ is growing consumer interest in how products are sourced (food, clothing, beauty products). There is a higher demand and almost expectation that the places we dine, shop and visit should be earth conscious. Where there is consumer interest and engagement, there is potential for growth.
Which leads us to battery recycling.

After commissioning a research study with Nielsen, several interesting facts about recycling habits and green behaviors were uncovered, with an emphasis on battery recycling. Of those that recycled in general, 73% recycled more common materials like plastic bottles/containers at least monthly. The ‘why’ was to do something good for the planet and the ‘how’ was made possible through curbside recycling or the ability to more conveniently recycle these common-use products at a local community recycling center.

Things shifted when drilling down to battery recycling. The research showed that two-thirds of U.S. consumers are aware of battery recycling in their communities, while only 41% participate. Two important parts of this equation are education and awareness, which go together in terms of influence.

In terms of knowledge of rechargeable battery recycling, 58% of those surveyed were aware of such programs with only 25% recycling used rechargeable batteries. Despite 86% of the population being within 10 miles of a Call2Recycle drop-off location that accepts rechargeable batteries and cellphones free of charge, there is still a knowledge gap on battery recycling. Add to that the underlying ‘hidden dangers’ that accompany unsafe battery disposal, and you have an even more compelling case for widespread battery recycling adoption.

Since there’s an answer to ‘how’ to recycle batteries, it’s important to drive discussions on ‘why’ consumers need to get engaged. How do we as society grow the case for consumer battery recycling and the need for safe practices? We must educate and activate the public.

Public awareness campaigns are an impactful approach to engage consumers and drive action. Examples include National Battery Day (annually marked on February 18th) and other seasonal campaigns tied to spring cleaning and holidays where there is a natural tie into responsibly recycling used batteries. These efforts not only educate consumers on the battery recycling process, they elucidate the safety aspect closely tied to proper disposal of used batteries.

The growing rate of fire-related incidents tied to lithium-based batteries underscores this point, calling specific attention to the dangers that can come from throwing batteries in the garbage (potential fires, potential leaking of materials into the waste stream). Through this awareness, consumers can seek out resources to ensure they are properly disposing used batteries in a way that keeps their family, community members and the planet safe. Municipalities, community recycling centers, governments, non-profits, household hazardous waste facilities are at the center of this discussion, making them a driving force behind battery recycling.

By continuing to engage the community in the battery recycling discussion, an emotional connection and investment can be created. Doing so is the first step to creating a habit that’s powerful and purposeful. And that’s how you can influence and create real industry change.

Learn more about Call2Recycle.

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