UK consumers’ purchasing choices are influenced by the choice of material used in the packaging, according to the findings of a survey by London-based data analysis company GlobalData.
GlobalData’s August 2019 survey found that 35% of consumers were more likely to purchase products without any plastic at all compared to the ones with recycled plastic. GlobalData did not provide details on the number of participants in the survey.
The survey results, according to George Henry, consumer analyst at GlobalData, provide a specific insight for manufacturers as consumers would pursue plastic-free packaging rather than recyclable.
“Many brands and supermarket chains have either chosen to introduce packaging with reduced or recycled plastic such as Solero’s first wrapper-less multipack, or remove plastic packaging completely as with Morrisons roll-out of ‘buy bagless’ fruit and vegetable aisles and Waitrose’s recent ‘unpacked’ refill trial,” Henry added.
Consumers’ willingness to change their shopping habits, along with potential margin benefits should encourage other retailers to launch their own refill sections.
GlobalData’s August 2019 survey highlighted that 71.3% of consumers across all demographics would be willing to use refill services, whether at Waitrose or any other grocer.
The consumer attitude, Henry noted, could limit the government’s plans to invest £60m (€66m) in biodegradable packaging to help cut single-use plastics.
“Consumers are influenced more by products without any plastic than biodegradable alternatives,” Henry added.
The investment in alternative packaging materials, according to GlobalData, is the UK government’s largest ever investment for a single project, which is expected to be complemented by £149m (€164m) from private business.
“With countries like Malaysia and the Philippines now limiting the intake of plastic waste from abroad, the UK government has forced greener changes as a matter of national urgency - whether or not the biodegradable packaging route will sit well with consumers is still to be seen,” Henry concluded.
The UK government has tightened its anti-plastic campaign over the past year, with plans to eradicate “all avoidable plastic waste” and a ban the sale of plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds as of April 2020.
Responding to a petition in November last year, the government said it is working with retailers and the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) to explore the potential for the introduction of plastic-free initiatives in supermarkets in which fresh food is sold loose.