KSNF/KODE — More than three quarters of the world’s population think recycling is important, but key barriers must be overcome to encourage them to act, according to a new study.

A joint survey by the World Economic Forum, SAP and Qualtrics questioned people in different parts of the world about their attitudes toward climate change and sustainability. The survey found that many see recycling as confusing and overwhelming, with some participants uncertain about what can be recycled or how to recycle it.

Researchers surveyed more than 11,500 people across 28 countries. The results are made up of 70% general consumers and 30% corporate representatives.

A picture taken on Jan. 30, 2013, shows broken glass in a recycle bin in Godewaersvelde, France. (Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP via Getty Images)

The survey found that 94% of Americans support recycling, and 74% say it should be a top priority. But only about 35% of people actually recycle. The top reason Americans say they don’t recycle regularly is a lack of convenient access.

Another problem, which is one that occurs in nearly all of the countries surveyed, is consumers don’t fully understand what can actually be recycled. They end up recycling such items as plastic straws and takeout containers that aren’t recyclable. These items most often end up being burned or put in a landfill.

The survey found that a consistent recycling program could lessen the confusion and reduce waste. Varying standards, even within cities and counties, leave consumers to guess what’s best for the environment.

Well over half of respondents — and many more in some regions — said choosing new products with reusable packaging was the most adoptable zero-waste practice. Around half thought avoiding products that are hard to recycle would reduce waste.

Extending the lifecycle of goods, by repairing them when worn or broken, saw strong support in regions like North America. In regard to reducing consumption as a means of easing waste, North America along with East Asia and the Pacific recorded the highest support (38%) compared to just 23% in Africa.