Recent independent research commissioned by compostable packaging company TIPA reveals consumers are urgently demanding more action to reduce the environmental impact of plastic waste.
Following on from Theresa May's pledge to eliminate plastic waste by 2042, over half (56%) of consumers believe existing measures such as the 5p charge for plastic bags don't go far enough and we should be taking further measures.
Research of 2,000 UK consumers has revealed the oldest age group cares most about plastic waste, with 9 in 10 (89%) of 55+ year olds saying they are concerned, compared to 73% of 25-34 year olds and 70% of 18-24 year olds. This indicates that this isn't a trend unique to younger respondents who will inevitably have to deal with the problem for longer.
At large - nearly a quarter of all respondents (22%) believe plastic waste should realistically be eliminated in the next 5-10 years, while 1 in 5 (20%) think the government's 2042 target is realistic. At any rate, over three quarters (78%) of consumers agree that the country should be taking this action.
9 in 10 (90%) consumers also say they understand the issue of plastic waste and the impact it has on the ocean, land and food chain. Reflecting this, over 4 in 5 (82%) people say they are concerned about the issue, with over 4 in 10 (44%) extremely concerned. Harming marine wildlife tops their concerns at 77%, potentially due to recent shows like Blue Planet II highlighting the scale of the problem. This is followed by harming land wildlife (69%) and then harming human health, ranking third behind wildlife at 56%.
Recently it was revealed that recycling plants can't process black plastic packaging at end of life because of the scanning technology in place. This adds to the fact that recycling can only be carried out a finite number of times before degrading past the point of reuse. Consumers were asked if they had heard of compostable packaging i.e. packaging that breaks down completely into soil as opposed to recyclable or biodegradable packaging. 81% of consumers were aware of compostable packaging when asked, showing consumers are well educated on the alternatives to plastic packaging.
Daphna Nissenbaum, CEO and co-founder of TIPA said: "Avoiding the damage caused by single-use plastic is the very reason I founded TIPA, but we were surprised at just how strongly consumers feel about the issue of plastic waste and how eager they are to see action."
"The UK public is now very aware of the issue of plastic waste and beginning to understand that most packaging used by retailers goes to landfill, recycling plants are unable to handle many types of plastic waste and biodegradable doesn't mean that the plastic disappears completely. This research shows that Government and private organisations need to work together to swiftly bring through new types of packaging which leave no trace on the environment and alleviate these justified consumer concerns."