Reducing the use of plastics is the biggest step companies can take to get shoppers to want their products, research has found.
Consumers are demanding more sustainability and climate action, forcing retailers to find new ways to earn trust, loyalty and money.
Reducing plastic is high on the list of corporate social responsibility programs for Australian shoppers, according to research by Queensland University of Technology for the Australian Retail Association.
Reducing the use of plastics was seen as more important than just recycling, consumer expert Gary Mortimer said on Wednesday.
Most Australian states and territories already ban plastic bags, and some are set to ban plastic plates, cups, cutlery, coffee lids, stirrers, straws, polystyrene food containers, helium balloons and microbeads.
Many large retailers use international standards to reduce their exposure to environmental, financial and regulatory risks related to climate change, carbon emissions and in particular the use of plastics.
Some are going beyond government mandates to stamp out plastic items in advance, with more items to be banned in Western Australia and the ACT from July 1.
ARA CEO Paul Zahra said retailers who show leadership in eradicating plastics are rewarded by their customers.
“Consumers have spoken – they want to see action on plastics given their unacceptable impact on the natural environment,” he said.
“And they’re going to be attracted to brands that show leadership on that front versus those that lag the channel.”
But he worries about small businesses that have been in survival mode for two years.
They need additional flexibility to switch to more sustainable products, he said.
The QUT survey of over 600 consumers found that a plastic reduction program creates more positive results than a store-wide discount.
The research grouped together the top five “corporate social responsibility tactics” that have the most influence on consumers.
THE FIVE MAIN ‘TACTICES’ TO ATTRACT CONSUMERS:
* Environmental: Reduction of plastic
* Philanthropy: healthy food choices for children
* Environmental: Plastic recycling
* Legal: Fair trade without forced labor
* Ethics: Racial equality.
Australian Associated Press