Throwaway World: 8 in 10 believe manufacturers should be obliged to reduce packaging waste

A new global online Ipsos survey finds 80% of “connected” people around the world saying that manufacturers should be obliged to help with the recycling and reuse of the packaging that they produce. This sentiment is shared by 86% of South Africans who have access to the internet.

It is also shared by a majority of consumers in each of the 28 countries covered in the research project. Agreement tops 80% in 18 of these countries and it is particularly widespread in Serbia (93%), Peru and Russia (both 88%).

People say they are ready for change. Three in four global consumers (75%) now agree they want to buy products with as little packaging as possible, a figure which rises to 81% in Great Britain, Hungary and Peru and 86% in Serbia. 77% of South Africans agree that they would prefer products with as little packaging as possible.

Meanwhile, 71% globally believe that single use plastic products should be banned as soon as possible, and support for such a move breaks the 7 out of every 10 barrier in 19 of the countries surveyed. South Africans show a high support for such a ban with three-quarters (75%) agreeing with the idea of a ban. People in the US show lower levels of approval, with 57% favouring a ban.

The survey points to potential benefits awaiting manufacturers who make the switch: A significant 84% of connected South Africans say they feel better about brands which make changes to achieve better environmental outcomes. This is higher than the global average of 75% and 71% in the United States.

At the same time, the project also points to limits to what people may be willing to do personally to decrease the amount of plastic they use.  Across all the 28 countries in the survey, 63% say they would be willing to change where they shop if it meant they would use less packaging, and this is higher in South Africa with two-thirds being willing to change where they shop (67%). But this figure falls to under 60% in many of the world’s wealthiest markets, and in the US the proportion ready to change their regular shopping routine stands at 49%. 

The survey finds big variations in people’s assessments of the local household recycling service in the areas where they live. In Russia and Serbia, less than a quarter are satisfied (24% and 22% respectively), while in Sweden and Canada it stands at 70%.  South Africans show very low levels (42%) of approval of our recycling service.

A similar international variation can be seen when it comes to the clarity of the rules for household recycling locally: these are rated particularly highly by people living in Belgium and Germany, where the proportion agreeing that the services are “good” stands at 72% and 70% respectively. At the other end of the spectrum are the assessments of the local recycling services in Serbia and Russia, which stand at 22% and 21% respectively.  Only 38% of South Africans believe that the recycling rules for household waste are clear in the area where they live.

Looking across the 28 countries, it’s the British who are most aware of the limits of recycling, with only a quarter (24%) believing that all plastics can be recycled, compared to a global average of 55% and more than two-thirds in Poland (67%), Serbia (69%) and Peru (74%). 59% of South Africans believe that all plastics can be recycled.

Mari Harris, Ipsos Senior Client Officer, comments that brands that deliver packaging which is sustainable and can maintain benefits and price advantages will likely be most competitive as consumers engage in more environment friendly shopping habits. South Africans are also showing that recycling systems and rules are lacking and an improvement in this could greatly increase the volumes of recycling done in South Africa at the moment.


About the Study

These are the findings of a 28-country Ipsos survey conducted via Ipsos’s Global Advisor online survey platform between July 26 and August 9, 2019.

For this survey, Ipsos interviewed a total of 19,515 adults aged 18-74 in Canada, Malaysia, South Africa, Turkey, and the United States; and 16-74 in all other markets.

The sample consists of 1,000+ individuals in each of Australia, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland), France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Spain, and the United States, and 500+ in each of Argentina, Belgium, Chile, Hungary, India, Malaysia, Mexico, The Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden and Turkey. 

The survey data have been weighted so that each market’s sample composition best reflects the demographic profile of the adult population according to the market’s most recent census data. Data collected each month are also weighted to give each market an equal weight in the total “global” sample.

Online surveys can be taken as representative of the general adult population under the age of 75 in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and the United States. Online samples in Brazil, Chile, China (mainland), India, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Africa and Turkey are more urban, more educated and/or more affluent than the general population and the results should be viewed as reflecting the views of a more “connected” population

Sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error. The precision of the Ipsos online polls is measured using a Bayesian Credibility Interval. The credibility interval around percentages based on single-month data is of +/- 3.5 percentage points for markets where the monthly sample is 1,000+ and +/-4.8 points for markets where the monthly sample is 500+. Click here for more information on the Ipsos use of credibility intervals.

Where results do not sum to 100 or the “difference” appears to be+/-1 more/less than the actual value, this may be due to rounding, multiple responses, or the exclusion of don't knows or not stated responses.


About Ipsos

Ipsos is the world’s third largest market research company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.

Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5,000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions.

Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1st, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).

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Mari Harris

Senior Client Officer

Ipsos South Africa