Recycle Coach, a leading provider of innovative waste management and circular economy solutions serving over 1,500 municipalities in North America and Australia, has unveiled insights from its 3rd Annual Recycling Knowledge Survey conducted throughout September and October. Through the survey, Recycle Coach sought to track evolving trends and identify areas of misunderstanding, enabling municipalities to deliver targeted recycling education. Residents were quizzed about the recyclability of items based on their local guidelines that ranged from common household materials to more challenging items like light bulbs.

Resident Belief in Environmental Impact Soars

While more education is surely needed to continue to improve resident behavior, 81% of survey respondents believe recycling has a positive impact on the environment, an incredible increase of 29% over the last two years and a tremendous sign for future educational efforts. The survey also saw participation rates nearly double, indicating increased interest in building better recycling habits and knowledge improvement.

Recycling Contamination Issues Persist

Recycling contamination remains a pressing concern. Survey results revealed an overall correct answer rate for material recyclability of 73% among residents, a similar metric to years past and in line with the US national average for contamination of 25%. Recycle Coach is optimistic that the key to lowering contamination rates lies within enhanced recycling education, fueled by data and insights at the local level.

Jeff Galad, President of Recycle Coach, highlighted the importance of understanding residents’ perceptions. “Beyond recycling and trash information, our cities are now ensuring information for all waste streams (e-waste, HHW, organics etc.) is constantly updated and correct so residents can make an informed decision for all materials in their home. This inevitably will reduce the chance of contamination at the curb in day-to-day recycling programs. Residents are savvier than we give them credit for – we need to make sure information is at their fingertips. To combat recycling contamination, we need to pinpoint areas of misunderstanding in local recycling programs. People are eager to recycle more efficiently, and it’s essential to bridge the knowledge gap and provide the information necessary for successful recycling.”

Loss of Material Recovery Looms

The prevalence of misconceptions about accepted materials in local programs remains a substantial hurdle. For example, common items like plastic bottles, jugs, and jars are accepted in nearly every location, but 26% of respondents answered incorrectly, signaling a huge loss of viable recyclables and sought-after materials being sent to landfills.

Recycle Coach is dedicated to providing municipalities with the tools they need to make education accessible to every resident on every platform.

For more information and the full 2023 Annual Survey results, visit