3 out of 4 UK consumers say government must prioritise plastic waste

Three-quarters of UK consumers say the government needs to prioritise the battle against plastic pollution and force the industry to do more to reduce plastic packaging waste, according to a new survey.

Meanwhile, brands and retailers could also do more to enable reuse and refill options and reduce packaging instore, according to the poll from environmental charity City to Sea.

In a survey of 2,037 UK-based respondents, 83% said they were ‘concerned’ about the levels of plastic in their grocery shop, up from 75% in May 2021.

Nearly two-thirds (64%) said that they wanted to reduce their use of single-use packaging when grocery shopping, with 81% saying they were already using reusable shopping bags.

However, the survey found that respondents blamed a lack of availability of sustainable alternatives for their failure to do more to reduce their use of single-use plastics.

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More than two-thirds said that brands need to do more – whether that’s offering reuse and refill options or reducing packaging – with 71% saying they would look more favourably on brands and retailers that offered these options.

Reuse and refill is becoming a major focus for brands and retailers. Aldi announced it was rolling out refill stations to more stores in January. Meanwhile, M&S has also expanded a trial which allows customers to refill own-brand cleaning and laundry products in partnership with Reposit and City to Sea which is now available in 23 M&S stores.

To encourage further take-up, campaigners are calling on political parties to include commitments to legally binding reusable packaging targets, as well as a complete ban on single-use packaging, within their manifestos.

City to Sea CEO Jane Martin said: “Retailers such as M&S, Aldi and brands like Ecover are leading the reuse and refill mission by undertaking trials which are showing great results. However, businesses must have legislative support to meet consumer demand.

“To create a plastic-free future, governments must set out incentives and foster opportunities for businesses to transition from single-use packaging.”

Reposit co-founder Stuart Chidley said it was a “positive step forward” to see consumers demand more reuse options.

“As the public continues to move away from single-use packaging, we call on brands and retailers to build on this momentum by committing further to reuse schemes.”

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