Businesses recycling survey results released

American businesses are looking for affordable and flexible options when it comes to recycling, according to results from a national survey conducted by an independent third-party, AJR & Partners, on behalf of AERC Recycling Solutions. The research will help to determine how to improve business-recycling rates in the United States.

The 2010 AERC How & Why Businesses Recycle Survey tracked two types of companies – those that recycle and those that do not. Of the 600 completed surveys, results indicated that 90 percent of American businesses practice some form of recycling and 10 percent do not. Fifteen industries including manufacturing, electronics, software, medical services, finance, insurance, real estate, education, retail and public administration were represented by survey participants from all over the country. More than two-thirds of all survey respondents had annual revenue under $25 million and 20 percent under $1 million.

Companies that do recycle and those that currently do not are both looking for affordable solutions and more options in order to start or increase recycling efforts. Surveyed companies are not aware of how their information is being destroyed, if it is being destroyed. Key findings include:

  • Ninety percent of firms either don’t know how their data is destroyed or have insufficient data destruction practices for protecting their organization from data leaks or hackers retrieving sensitive information.
  • The top three recycled waste streams with over 80 percent rates of recycling are batteries, electronic waste and lamps.
  • Slightly more than half (51 percent) of firms that do not recycle say their customers, vendors and employees want them to recycle, but the primary reasons for not having a recycling program in place (for 72 percent of companies) is lack of options or it’s too costly.
  • Of the firms that do recycle, 45 percent say that their cost of doing business has decreased by having a recycling program through lower insurance premiums or reduced liability risks for the company.
  • Having additional options in recycling programs is a factor in deciding if surveyed firms recycle or increase their recycling rates.
  • About 40 percent of all companies report a need for more access to recycling options.

More than two-thirds (72 percent) of the companies that do not recycle say that it is either too costly to recycle or they do not have available options in their geographic region. One-third of the companies say they do not recycle because there is no law mandating it.

Slightly more than half say their customers, vendors and employees want them to recycle, but the options are not there for them to meet those demands. A full 10 percent of firms not recycling say they have no interest in recycling.

Nearly all firms that currently recycle are genuinely concerned about the environment and conserving natural resources as well as being in full compliance with regulatory and industry practices. About 45 percent say that recycling actually reduces their cost of doing business by paying lowered insurance premiums or reducing liability risks. The top three obstacles to increasing recycling are:

  • Space limitations for containers
  • Inconvenience of sorting materials
  • Cost

In order to increase recycling rates, more than one-third (35 percent) of firms that recycle say that more training is needed to implement recycling programs for different types of waste streams.