Orlando, Fla. — Favorable public opinion polling on chemical recycling, with support above 90 percent, is creating an opportunity for the plastics industry to press its case.
At least that was the analysis of two prominent opinion researchers — one Democrat and one Republican — as they dissected polling data at a recent American Chemistry Council conference on the technology, also known as advanced recycling.
"A lot of our corporate clients, they're looking for those 80/20 issues," said Brenda Gianiny, founding principal of Republican polling firm Axis Research. "If I can get 80 percent of the public to agree with me, I'd be in such a great spot. It's very difficult.
"You've got a 95/5 here. We're not used to seeing data like this," she said. "And it's bipartisan."
Gianiny and Cornell Belcher, president of Brilliant Corners Research & Strategies, presented polling data showing support for chemical recycling in the mid-90s among Democrats, Republicans and independents.
They called that a strength even if, they said, the polling shows challenges because only a little more than 20 percent of the public was initially familiar with the term.
Gianiny said the data was from polling of 1,200 voters nationwide that ACC provided. They spoke at ACC's inaugural Innovation and Circularity Summit: Advanced Recycling and the Future of Plastics, held June 28-29 in Orlando, Fla.
Belcher, former chief pollster for the Democratic National Committee and a pollster for both of Barack Obama's presidential campaigns, told the audience the numbers put the industry in a strong position with the public.
"You're in the catbird seat and they have to bring you down," Belcher said. "Define yourselves. You have a tremendous opportunity."
In their comments, both pollsters made apparent references to environmental campaigns like an $85 million effort started in 2022 by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to slow plastics and petrochemical growth, curb emissions and fund environmental groups advocating for laws to address plastic waste and support fenceline communities.
"I think that when you're starting to see the attacks that come from that $100 million or whatever … talk about jobs you're creating in the community, talk about the economic output that you're driving, talk about the innovation that you're doing," said Gianiny, who was the primary pollster for George Bush's 2004 presidential campaign. She also does work for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and companies including Walmart and Anheuser-Busch, and she said in her comments she did work with focus groups for ACC.
"Stay positive in how you respond to those and to Cornell's point, getting out there first would be a huge advantage," she said.