A Throwaway World: the challenge of plastic packaging and waste

Are consumers ready to change their habits when it comes to plastic packaging and waste? Or should more of the responsibility lie with manufacturers? Our new global survey reveals the latest thinking.

plastic packaging and waste | Ipsos | Global Advisor

A new Ipsos Global Advisor survey finds 84% of Britons saying that manufacturers should be obliged to help with the recycling and reuse of the packaging that they produce. This sentiment is shared by a majority of people in each of the 28 countries covered research, with the global average standing at 80%.

The British public claim to be ready for change. An overwhelming majority - 81% - want to buy products with as little packaging as possible. Furthermore, 75% now believe that single use plastic products should be banned as soon as possible.

The survey suggests there are potential benefits awaiting those manufacturers who can show they are embracing change: 77% of Brits say they feel better about brands which make changes to achieve better environmental outcomes.

However, the research also indicates that there may be limits to what people are willing to do personally to decrease the amount of plastic they use.  Set against these big majorities agreeing that bold steps now need to be taken, rather fewer – 57% - say they would be willing to change where they shop if it meant they would use less packaging. 

Almost two-thirds (63%) of Brits are positive about the recycling service provided for household waste in the area they live (12 percentage points above the global average), while 60% say their local recycling rules are clear (8 points ahead of the global score).

The survey finds that it’s the British who the most aware of the limits of recycling, with only a quarter (24%) believing that all plastics can be recycled, compared to an international average of 55%.

Ian Payne, Global Head of Packaging Innovation, said: “Brands which deliver more sustainable packaging without compromising benefits or price, will be rewarded a competitive advantage. Our poll shows that positive outcomes are more likely when people are incentivised with systems that support behaviour. Packaging which is more easily sorted and disposed of will nudge virtuous behaviours, with tangible outcomes for the whole community.”

Ian is the author of our recent paper, The Third Moment of Truth: Why sustainable packaging became a corporate necessity, and discusses the topic in more detail on our podcast:

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