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South Africans eager for less packaging, better recycling

A new global Ipsos survey finds 80% of “connected” people around the world believe manufacturers should be obliged to help with the recycling and re-use of the packaging 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.

Seventy-seven percent of South Africans agree they would prefer products with as little packaging as possible.

Meanwhile, 71% globally believe single use plastic products should be banned as soon as possible, and support for such a move breaks the seven 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 that make the switch: a significant 84% of connected South Africans say they feel better about brands that 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.

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 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%). Fifty-nine percent of South Africans believe 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.

Source: Ipsos

About the study: These are the findings of a 28-country Ipsos survey conducted via Ipsos’s Global Advisor online survey platform between 26 July and 9 August 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. Read more here

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