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Will recycled products be the hot gift item this shopping season?

As soon as everyone puts away the turkey and stuffing leftovers, all attention is now on the holiday season. And it looks like 'green' gifts are on the lists of holiday shoppers this season.

According to a recent survey conducted online in November among over 2,000 U.S. adults by Harris Poll on behalf of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), two-thirds (66%) of Americans say they look for information on whether or not the product is made from recycled materials when making a purchase. Furthermore, Americans would be willing to spend 13% more, on average, on a product if it was fully recyclable (i.e., all parts of the item could be recycled), and an average of 10% more for a product if they knew it was made of recycled materials.

ISRI believes that this trend could help manufacturers increase profits with recyclable products. "The data shows that design for recycling not only benefits the environment and saves energy, but can increase a company's bottom line," said Robin Wiener, president of ISRI. "Consumers look for and are demanding more information about a product's recyclability. Manufacturers that create products with recycling in mind can gain a significant edge over their competitors."

According to the poll, more than one in five (22%) Americans say that when making a purchase, they always or often look for information on whether or not the product was made from recycled materials. A strong majority (86%) of Americans would appreciate it if manufacturers designed products to be easier for consumers who recycle to disassemble in preparation for recycling and more than 4 in 5 (81%) say they would like to see manufacturers and/or retailers display a "Recycling Guide" label on products (similar to the Energy Guide label on appliances) that would detail the parts and percentage of the product that can be recycled and how.

  • Those with a household incomes (HHI) of less than $50k would be willing to pay an average of 16% more for a product if they knew it was easy and convenient to collect and take to a recycling center (or picked up at their home on a curbside program). This average was significantly higher than the average among those with a HHI of $75k+ (10%)
  • Convenience is key as more than 3 in 5 (62%) Americans say that if a product is not easy or convenient to recycle, they probably would not recycle it.
  • More than 2 in 5 (43%) consider the product's materials (what the product is made of and whether or not the product was made from recycled materials) when making a purchasing decision.
  • Just under 1 in 5 (19%) think the product's packaging is important (what the packaging is made of and whether or not the packaging can be recycled/was made from recycled materials) when making a purchasing decision.

ISRI sponsors its Design for Recycling, which is a voluntary program that urges manufacturers to think about the ultimate destiny of their product during the design stage of its development. Such design benefits both the environment and the economy, and shareholders and consumers recognize the benefits of designing a product that will have several lives. The Design for Recycling Award is ISRI's highest award that is given annually to a manufacturer with the most outstanding contribution to products designed with recycling in mind.  The award recognizes the proactive steps made by manufacturers who have actively incorporated Design for Recycling principles into their products and manufacturing processes.

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