Published 4 years ago.
About a 3 minute read.
Image: Shelton Group
New study finds bans of single-use plastic and awareness of circular alternatives are breaking through to consumers. The impacts of climate change remain much more intangible.
US consumers are more concerned about the impact of plastic
in our oceans than they are about the impacts of climate change, according to a
new survey by Shelton Group — which examined whether the recent media and
corporate spotlights on single-use plastic has broken through in the lives of
the public across the country.
When shown a list of 10 different environmental issues, 65 percent of US
consumers surveyed expressed feeling very concerned or extremely concerned about
plastics in the ocean, compared to 58 percent who felt very or extremely
concerned about climate change. Asked about the environmental issues they hear
about the most — from television, newspapers, friends and social media —
respondents reported that discussions about plastic waste polluting our oceans
(57 percent) is now on par with mentions of climate change (59 percent). 63
percent say they’ve heard some to a lot about single-use plastic
Notably, 80 percent of consumers in the US said if given the option to buy goods
that don’t use single-use plastic
they will — which bodes well for the success of alternatives such as the
recently launched Loop e-commerce
through which dozens of household-name brands are trading in single-use
packaging for durable, refillable options.
Awareness of plastic bans and efforts retailers, brands and restaurants are
making to reduce single-use plastics are both strongly correlated with
heightened concern and individual action to reduce plastic use — a strong signal
that consumers will increasingly demand plastic alternatives as awareness of
waste grows. This tracks with other recent Shelton Group
which found that roughly 40 percent of women have either switched or are
considering switching from traditional, disposable pads and tampons to
non-disposable, reusable feminine hygiene products, citing environmental and
health concerns about traditional, disposable period products — “plastic waste
ranked as the top environmental concern about disposable feminine hygiene
products among all respondents, regardless of if they’ve switched to reusables.
Unlock customer insights on sustainability & your brand’s unique performance! Submit your brand (or any brand) into the 2024 annual study and receive unparalleled insights on customer perception of that brand’s performance. Benchmark how your customers rate your brand on social and environmental sustainability and overall brand trust, while seeing how your brand compares to others in the study. Space is limited! The deadline to become part of the study is January 15, 2024.
This new data suggests that the US public is more spurred to concern and action
over environmental issues that are immediately visible and thus more emotionally
affecting, such as plastic waste corrupting ocean water and marine life. The
impacts of climate change — such as coral reef
and rising CO2 levels and global temperatures — are much more intangible.
“This is a moment of tremendous market opportunity — or significant challenge —
for a variety of organizations in the consumer packaged goods, packaging,
retailing and food service industries,” said Suzanne Shelton, CEO of Shelton
Group. “It will be increasingly hard for Americans to believe a company cares
about sustainability, which is now a driver of brand preference and purchase
decisions, when a company continues a ‘business as usual’ approach to single-use
plastics. It’s time for everyone in these value chains to get creative and
figure out circular, reusable models, as well as material alternatives.”
Shelton Group surveyed a total of 1,013 U.S. respondents in March 2019.
Stratified sampling mirrors the U.S. population, using quotas for geography,
age, gender, education, and race; data were weighted slightly to match U.S.
population distributions. Margin of error is +/- 3.1 percent.
Published Jun 20, 2019 2pm EDT / 11am PDT / 7pm BST / 8pm CEST