According to a statewide survey conducted by Responsive Management and commissioned by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA), “the majority of Georgians care about the environment and agree that they can make an impact through personal action.”
This personal action was most often identified through recycling, with 97 percent of respondents indicating that recycling should be a high priority for their fellow Georgia residents.
“We were pleasantly surprised to hear that 67 percent of Georgians strongly agree that they personally can have an impact on the environment by recycling,” said Randy Hartmann, director of DCA’s Office of Environmental Management. “The research reaffirms our belief that people do want to make a difference and believe they can, by taking a small step like recycling. We know we have work to do to increase recycling rates throughout the state, but this is a great place to start.”
Room to Grow
While some statistics from the report are positive, such as 84 percent of respondents indicating they had recycled something in the past 12 months (and 82 percent admitting feeling guilty when they throw away recyclable items), some show room for growth. Only 58 percent of those surveyed say they recycle “always” or “often.”
One obstacle in improving this rate, according to the report, is the lack of curbside collections in Georgia communities. Only 41 percent of respondents indicated they lived in a community that offers curbside recycling, and 90 percent “said they would recycle if it ‘were easier to do.'”
The survey also indicated that “a lack of ongoing education is keeping many Georgians from participating.” More than half of Georgians surveyed said they would be “very likely” to recycle or recycle more if they received more information about recycling in their community.
“We know that curbside is the most convenient way to recycle. This survey showed us that when communities lack these programs many would-be recyclers are deterred,” says Hartmann. “But convenience still plays a role, and having a program at your front door, literally, is the most effective option for the average resident.”
The survey revealed a number of other aspects of Georgians recycling behavior, such as:
- 70 percent of residents with curbside recycling use the program.
- 55 percent of those without curbside access “strongly” or “moderately agree” that not having a program is a source of frustration for them, with only 45 percent recycling “always” or “often.” 89 percent of these residents take recyclables to drop-off sites, even if only about once a year.
- A resident will drive an average of six miles to a drop-off location.
- 42 percent of Georgians who have recycled in the past 12 months and who work outside of the home say they “always” recycle at work, with 31 percent saying “often” or “sometimes.”
“The global economic crisis has hit recycling markets hard. Yet, despite recent volatility, communities can rest assured there is strong demand for programs,” says Gloria Hardegree, executive director for the Georgia Recycling Coalition. “When 76 percent of Georgians without a curbside program say they would be very likely to participate in a program if it were offered, that is a statistic that cannot be ignored.”