Recycling behavior of Romanians: Retirees say they are most concerned about selective waste collection, compared to young people

Consumption Habits, Marketing, Studies

“The high percentage of pensioners who show greater care for the environment can be explained by their tendency to reuse the materials, precisely to avoid waste. They are much more concerned with conserving resources and focusing on moderate consumption. On the one hand, this behavior can be correlated with reduced incomes (approximately 800 lei minimum pension and 1400 lei average pension, according to Ziarul Finaciar) and therefore, retirees want to maximize each resource. On the other hand, the habit of keeping and reusing objects is another explanation why retirees show this concern for selective collection.

The contradiction arises in the case of millennials and young professionals who, although they are the ones who will experience the most global warming effects, are not as interested in recycling. They fall prey to the misconception that the danger is far away. Thus, the results of the study showing the lower involvement of young people, compared to the elderly, in selective waste collection can be justified. ” (Marius Luican, CEO Reveal Marketing Research)

Romanians are eager to recycle (74%), according to a recent study by Reveal Marketing Research. However, many lack adequate means to do so (35%). The claims of Romanians from brands are also starting to increase, 43% are not satisfied only with promises and encouragement and change their purchase decision, preferring those products made out of recycled materials.

The absence of storage centers or special spaces near the home is the biggest obstacle that prevents Romanians from selectively collecting waste (24%).


In the current context of climate change, action to combat it is becoming increasingly necessary. There are policies to reduce pollution and sanctions for non-compliance, but they do not always seem to be very effective. Even if at an individual level, citizens know the importance of protecting the environment, they do not act as such. Why? The lack of tools provided by local authorities is a major impediment.

Brands: drivers of eco-friendly education

Young professionals (88%) believe that brands have an important role in educating and encouraging the population towards selective collection. When it comes to the purchase decision, brands that use recycled materials have an advantage. The eco-friendly approach of a brand weighs as a purchasing decision factor for respondents, 43% of them being largely and very much influenced by the responsible and sustainable behavior of companies in the market.

In terms of brand communication, companies were more successful in shaping the purchasing decision of young professionals (49%), compared to the segment of modern families which is to a very small extent influenced by the eco-friendly messages promoted (12%).

Who are the Romanians who collect selectively?

Retired seniors (84%) and modern families (76%) say they select waste the most.

Millennials (61%), compared to the elderly segment, recycle the least.


The main way of selective collection of Romanians consists in the specially arranged containers offered by the local authorities, over half of the respondents opting for this answer. Retired seniors (65%) use these containers. The importance of the spaces provided inside the shopping centers (hypermarket, supermarket, shops, mall) is noticeable, because about a third of the respondents prefer to select waste here, especially millennials (38%). Instead, the least used method by the respondents is the collection in black bags from REBU, the collection being included in the purchase price (10%).

Why don’t Romanians sort waste?

The biggest barrier (24%): the lack of a space specially arranged in the vicinity of the house.

Other obstacles: distance from collection centers – 12% of respondents do not live nearby. Millennials do not recycle – 21%.

Only 4% of Romanians consider recycling to be a difficult process.

Only 1% of Romanians do not believe in the benefit of recycling.


The provision of special bags free of charge by the authorities and the possibility to transport them to the waste collection center would encourage Romanians to behave more responsibly (62%). Retired seniors (74%) would be the most motivated to recycle if they had this possibility. The high penalties would not greatly influence the decision to collect selectively, so that only 8% of respondents would be motivated by their existence.

Following the study conducted by Reveal Marketing Research, the results show the openness of Romanians to collect selectively to a greater extent under the conditions of significant help from local authorities or free facilities to facilitate the waste selection process. In drawing attention to environmental issues, brands play an important role in encouraging responsible behavior. At the same time, the actions of brands in promoting environmental protection positively influence consumers’ perception.

The method used was CAWI (Computer Assisted Web Interview) and 847 online interviews were conducted on a nationally representative sample. The data collection period was 10-18 June 2020. Sampling error: ± 3.4%.


Reveal Marketing Research is a market research company, with a passionately curious team, specialized in marketing research, sociological studies, customer insight, business strategy, market development.