Majority of UK shoppers expect retailers to tackle plastic waste

Majority of UK shoppers expect retailers to tackle plastic waste
Credit: Shutterstock.com/ 1000 Words

80% of shoppers in the UK believe that the retail industry should be doing more to tackle plastic waste, according to research commissioned by compostable packaging company TIPA.

The research found that 6 in ten consumers feel it it’s the responsibility of retailers to reduce the environmental impact of plastic waste.

Consumers were also asked who is most responsible for reducing plastic waste and most people believe it is in fact themselves (78%). However, other than themselves, retailers (62%) are held most responsible, followed by the government (50%) and then the merchant (42%).

Public pressure is mounting for supermarkets to eradicate plastic use wherever possible. Nearly 4 in 10 consumers (39%) think retailers should be made to have a plastic-free aisle in every store, while over a quarter (29%) go even further and think every retail store should be completely plastic free.

The new findings also reveal how consumers believe the retail industry should be considering ethics and functionality when creating products. Nearly half (46%) think that ethics should come ahead of functionality, with a third saying ethics should be considered as much as functionality.

Other than plastic waste, the most significant ethical issues that consumers are concerned about are sustainability (41%), followed by fair trade (33%) and healthier nutrition (30%).

“Retailers are now recognising that shoppers are not only opposed to plastic waste in theory, they are very concerned about its large-scale polluting effect on the world’s lands and oceans,” said TIPA CEO Daphna Nissenbaum.

“While a considered, wide-scale solution is needed by the industry to be effective, retailers should take note that consumers are holding them most accountable and are demanding more urgent action. Retailers can benefit by taking the right steps now and communicating clearly with consumers to avoid losing them to competitors who get there first.”

The study found that nearly three-quarters (70%) of people said they would be more likely to shop with a brand that offers compostable packaging, while nearly 2 in 5 (39%) said they expect retailers to make more use of compostable packaging.

Finally, nearly 1 in 5 (18%) said it’s fair to expect brands to use compostable packaging in marketing messages as this becomes a bigger differentiator, which should come as interesting news to marketers.

“The UK public’s knowledge is getting more informed with every story about plastic waste in the media,” added Nissenbaum.

“Next they will be actively looking for the most environmentally friendly packaging options in stores and expecting this choice from retailers they shop with.”