Americans Want Corporations To Take Responsibility for Waste

They also think companies will put more money and effort into sustainability within the next five years.

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A new survey found that 91% of Americans take part in some sort of sustainability practice. "You make it, you recycle it" - a new survey found half of Americans claim major companies need to be accountable for climate action.

A poll of 2,000 US adults revealed 48% think corporations should be held more responsible for the waste their products generate. Likewise, 63% believe it's important for companies to have a strong stance for sustainability and nearly as many (62%) agree they should be the leaders in sustainability efforts and climate action.

Respondents shared the actions they would like to see companies take regarding their waste stream: safely and securely destroy hazardous materials (59%), reuse and recycle materials when possible (58%) and make products with recyclable materials (53%). Six in 10 (63%) believe companies that are sustainably focused can make a difference in the global climate crisis, and 62% predict companies will put more money and effort into sustainability within the next five years.

Sustainability Is Key

Commissioned by Covanta, an innovative resource in sustainable materials management, and conducted by OnePoll, the study found three in five are inspired by eco-friendly companies and 58% are more likely to shop from a company that sustainably manages the waste their products generate.

For four in 10, sustainability is the "most important" factor to them when it comes to shopping. Forty-six percent believe items made from recycled materials are better than traditionally manufactured items. Meanwhile, 45% would be willing to spend more money on products that are sustainably made than those that aren't. Over half (56%) are also more likely to shop from a company that uses recycled materials in its products.

"It's clear that a majority of individuals care about the environment and want to take actions to fight climate change, but there's a major challenge in the way," said Chief Sustainability Officer Tequila Smith at Covanta.

"Corporations have a massive impact on the environment, whether they're aware of it or not, added Smith. "And it's in their favor - as well as in the favor of the planet and its people alike - to be responsible for the waste they generate. They can achieve this by utilizing sustainable service options that maximize product reuse that contributes to the circular economy."

Sustainability Practices

The results also found that 91% of Americans take part in some sort of sustainability practice either in their home or neighborhood - recycling everything that they can (65%), bringing their own bag while shopping (51%) and recycling their electronics (44%). Yet despite the large number of people who take part, 54% believe their personal sustainability actions have little to no impact on the environment at a larger scale.

Fifty-three percent said they'd be more inclined to be sustainable in their own home or neighborhood if they saw a large company take a stronger stance on climate action. Many respondents said they have a positive view of companies that make sustainable products (40%) and provide support for their surrounding communities (40%).

"Aside from the ecological benefits, companies should come to realize the other, lesser-known benefits that come from taking meaningful actions towards sustainability," Smith continued. "There is a clear 'want' people have for products made sustainably and a level of inspiration that people gain when they see a company they like doing something good for the environment."

Top 7 Things Companies Should Do To Be More Green

  1. Safely and securely destroy materials that would pose a hazard if sent to a landfill - 59%
  2. Reuse and recycle materials when possible - 58%
  3. Make products with recyclable materials - 53%
  4. Make products that are biodegradable - 50%
  5. Treat and recycle wastewater - 48%
  6. Use sustainable resources in their factories - 45%
  7. Extract energy from non-recyclable waste - 35%

Survey Methodology

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 general population Americans was commissioned by Covanta between March 21 and March 23, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research ( AAPOR ) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research ( ESOMAR ).

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