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Changing the mind-set behind recycling

October 1, 2013

BLOOMINGTON, IN — The recycling rate in the U.S. has risen less than 6 percent in the past decade and researchers have been trying to figure out why, according to a press release.

Instead of the typical excuses, such as recycling bins are not handy or recycling options are too confusing, a study recently published in the Journal of Electronic Commerce Research looked at the actual thought process that leads consumers to recycle or not recycle an item, the release stated.

According to the release, the researchers discovered that there is a psychological characteristic to recycling; for example, if an item looks damaged, incomplete, small, ripped, shredded, or deformed (a dented can, for example), it invariably gets tossed in the trash.

"This is a 'mind-set' issue and I do not believe [we must ask] manufacturers to redesign or repackage their items just so they do not lose their form. However, it would not hurt to add a sign to recycling bins indicating 'many items, no matter what their condition, can be recycled,'" said Stephen Ashkin, chief executive officer (CEO) of Sustainability Dashboard Tools.

Click here to read the release in its entirety.