Three quarters of people in global survey want single-use plastics banned

An average of more than eight in 10 would like to see an international treaty to combat plastic pollution.

An average of three-quarters of people across 28 countries agree that single-use plastic should be banned as soon as possible, the ‘Attitudes towards single-use plastic’ survey by Ipsos in conjunction with Plastic Free July has revealed.

Latin American and BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) countries show the highest levels of agreement with banning single-use plastic, at 88% and 80% respectively, while North America has the lowest levels of agreement at 61%.

The highest levels of agreement with banning single-use plastics are seen in Colombia (89%), Chile and Mexico (both 88%), and Argentina and China (both 84%), and the lowest levels in Japan (37%), the United States (55%) and Canada (66%).

The study was conducted among 20,513 adults under the age of 75 across 28 countries on Ipsos’s Global Advisor online platform.

On average, 88% of people surveyed across 28 countries believe it is essential, very important or fairly important to have an international treaty to combat plastic pollution. Again, Latin America (93%), BRIC countries (91%) and the Middle East/Africa (90%) are the regions with the highest levels of agreement.

The five countries with the highest levels of agreement are Mexico (96%), Brazil (95%), Colombia (94%), and Chile and Peru (both 92%). Those with the lowest ones are Japan (70%), the US (78%) and Canada (79%).

Clear majorities of consumers in every country and a global average of 82% also agree they prefer products that use as little plastic packaging as possible. Again, Latin America and BRIC countries show the highest levels of agreement at 89% and 84% respectively. At the country level, China, Mexico, and Colombia top the list with 92% agreement, followed by Chile (90%) and Peru (87%). Again, Japan is the country with the lowest percentage agreeing (56%), followed by the US (71%) and the Netherlands (73%).

Vast majorities of people in all 28 countries agree that manufacturers and retailers should take responsibility for reducing, reusing, and recycling plastic packaging, with a global average of 85%. Latin Americans are those who are most in agreement ( 89%), followed by Europeans. Public opinion in Japan is not as unanimous with only 72% agreeing with the statement.

The five countries where support for having manufacturers and retailers take responsibility for reducing, reusing, and recycling plastic packaging is highest are Brazil, China, Great Britain, and Mexico, all at 90%, and Sweden at 89%, while those least likely to agree were Japan (72%), Saudi Arabia and South Korea both at 79%.

Plastic Free July®, is a global movement (by the not-for-profit Plastic Free Foundation) helping people take action to end plastic waste by choosing to refuse single-use plastic. The Ipsos study will be featured by Plastic Free July and WWF leading up to the upcoming UN Environmental Assembly (UNEA) 5.2. One decision to be made at UNEA will be whether to start negotiations on a new global agreement to reduce plastic waste and unsustainable production of single use plastics, and address marine plastic pollution.

Ipsos Australia Director, Stuart Clark, said:

These results make it very clear that there is a strong consensus globally that single-use plastics should be taken out of circulation as quickly as possible.

The fact that there is such strong support for an international treaty to address the single-use plastics shows that people see this as a challenge that all countries have to solve together.

People want to do the right thing. An average of 82 percent of people surveyed want to buy products that minimise plastic packaging. They want that change to happen quickly and they want their governments to support it.

This 28-country Global Advisor survey was conducted between August 20th and September 3rd 2021 via the Ipsos Online Panel system among 20,513 adults aged 18-74 in Canada, Malaysia, South Africa, Turkey, and the United States, and 16-74 in all 21 other countries.