Principles Research

Sustainability: after plastic

The last few years have seen a virtuous cycle of single-use plastic reduction. As consumer concern of single-use plastics has increased, brands and retailers have taken further steps to reduce their usage, further increasing consumer awareness of the issue.

As a result, sales of single-use plastic bags in the UK have fallen from over 7.5bn in 2014 to 1.1bn in 2018/19 and just this week we’ve seen announcements from each of the major supermarkets about further steps they have taken to remove single use plastics.

Consumers have demonstrated a considerable willingness to change their behaviour for the good of the planet. As the public become more informed of the impact their other actions are having on the climate, we expect to see further behaviour changes.

Plastic bag production creates relatively very low CO2, only around 3kg per person per year. In comparison, taking one fewer flight would save 680kg per person per year; and if the average person stopped eating meat it would save 790kg of CO2 per person per year.

As a result, we expect non-renewable energy consumption, flying and eating meat to come under much greater scrutiny in the coming years as consumers become more aware of their CO2 footprint.

Our survey of consumer’s views of sustainability found that while 66% of people were trying to use less electricity, only one in four were taking fewer flights or reducing their meat consumption.

We believe that as consumer’s awareness of the impact their behaviour has on the climate increases, significant shifts will occur in their buying priorities.

Future changes

We anticipate that, as the impact on the climate from flying becomes a greater consideration, consumers will increasingly take fewer holidays, but for longer periods of time. Shorter overseas breaks will become less palatable due to the emissions involved. As a result, consumers will shift towards taking short breaks within the UK and save overseas travel for longer breaks.

In addition, there will be an increasing focus on meat consumption over the coming few years. Meat alternatives are becoming increasingly prevalent. The market is currently experiencing a fast period of growth as consumers trial the various products on offer.

We believe that a major further opportunity exists within the food to go space. Consumers will increasingly look for easy ways to meet their dietary preferences; retailers and brands have a significant opportunity to meet their needs by providing wide ranges of high quality products that offer great value.

How we can help

With over 30 years of working closely with our clients, we are specialists in sustainability research.
If you’d like to understand how we can help grow your business, get in touch today!

Phone: 01132262266