A pandemic-induced wave of e-commerce has left shoppers with more boxes than ever before, sparking a consumer rush to recycle and increasing demand for sustainable packaging. But while there is more interest in sustainability – especially among millennials – many buyers say they are frustrated with the amount of non-recyclable materials that are appearing and the lack of easy access to local recycling sites.

These are the main findings of a national survey conducted by DS Smith, a leading paper and packaging company focused on creating innovative and sustainable packaging solutions.

A previous DS Smith survey shows that 44% of people say they received more shipments during the COVID-19 pandemic. An overwhelming majority of 83% of consumers surveyed say that the packaging they receive is not fully recyclable because it contains other materials such as plastic or polystyrene foam. Only 17% say they received fully recyclable packaging.

The survey, carried out last month, found dramatic changes at home and in lifestyle, with those aged 30 to 39 having the biggest jump in recycling habits due to the pandemic. More than a quarter (26%) say they recycle more, followed by 18 to 29 year olds who do more at 21%.

Almost half (48 percent) of respondents would describe recycling in their local community as very accessible, with recycling being picked up at their homes.

But there’s still work to be done, with 35% saying they need to take their recycling to a specified location. And 17 percent say they don’t have access to recycling in their community.

This is particularly common in rural areas, with 74% of respondents saying they either need to take their recycling to a specific location (46%) or have no access to recycling in their communities (28%).

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