Recyclers need to stay away from industry jargon to help boost recycling of food service packaging, according to a recent survey.
The Foodservice Packaging Institute's web-based survey engaged 1,000 homeowners in the United States in an effort to get a handle on the “the impact of language on recycling behavior,” the group said.
The web-based survey showed that respondents typically use common language rather than what the trade group calls “industry jargon” to describe recyclable materials.
Case in point: 61 percent of the respondents simply used the words “plastic container” rather than “clamshell container” when shown a picture of the rigid plastic packaging.
“The FPI survey aimed to re-create the moment a resident decides to recycle an item. We showed survey participants photos of cups, containers, boxes and bags to find out how language on food service packaging material impacts people's curbside behavior,” FPI President Lynn Dyer said in a statement.
While 19 percent of the people did call the packaging a “clamshell container,” another 12 percent called it a “take-out container,” and 4 percent each called it a “hinged container” or a “produce container,” FPI reported.
The same was true for a polystyrene clamshell container, where the majority of respondents called it a “foam container.”
The survey shows the importance of creating common language as most people, 51 percent, said they rely most on a city, county or recycling company's website for recycling information, FPI reported.
Results of the survey are available here.
A replay of a webinar to discuss the survey is available here.
“We wanted to identify what terms and language was most ringing true with residents at the point of recycling,” said Marissa Segundo, a consultant with of Resource Recycling Systems, a consulting firm that conducted the survey. “In recycling, there's not that universal language. So this helps to bring clarity.”