Half of the British public calls for clearer labelling on plastic packaging to avoid further waste in retail and grocery sectors

Independent research commissioned by compostable packaging company TIPA reveals that nearly half (48%) of British shoppers would like to see labelling on products in retail and groceries stores identifying that 'plastic-free' packaging is marked accordingly. 

Public awareness of avoidable plastic waste has reached an all-time high following a torrent of eye-opening documentaries and news items unearthing the vast environmental impact of plastic pollution. Consequently, far greater scrutiny is being placed on the service industry to reduce its plastic waste and inform conscientious consumers that they’re making eco-friendly purchasing decisions.

Encouragingly, many consumers are already taking an active stance in identifying which packaging formats are fit for recycling. When asked about flexible plastic packaging, used for many single-use products which are mostly non-recyclable, more than half (54%) of British shoppers say they check labelling before throwing these items in the regular refuse bin. However, confusion still exists in certain quarters as over 1 in 5 consumers (21%) admit to throwing flexible packaging in the recycling bin because they didn’t know it wasn’t eligible for recycling. 

While the introduction of clearer labelling to show which packaging does and does not contain plastic will help inspire consumer confidence that they and their chosen brands are acting responsibly with plastic, others would like to see this go further. Nearly 4 in 10 consumers (39%) think retailers should be made to have a 'plastic-free' aisle in every store. Over a quarter (29%) go even further and think every retail store should be completely 'plastic-free'. 

When considering the use of compostable packaging formats – packaging that breaks down completely into soil and leaves no trace on the environment, as opposed to recyclable or biodegradable packaging – almost half (46%) of UK consumers say they think compostable packaging is under-utilised by brands. Likewise, nearly half (49%) of shoppers would welcome the introduction of labelling to identify that packaging is compostable.

Daphna Nissenbaum, CEO of TIPA® commented: “It’s great to see that public yearning is driving the service industry to rethink its relationship with flexible plastic packaging, which is often non-recyclable. We’re now at a point where people better understand the damage of plastic waste and are keen to reduce their carbon footprint but aren’t always sure how best to go about it. This often leads people to “play it safe” with packaging they aren’t sure is recyclable, due to unclear or unlabelled packaging, and end up using the wrong receptacles. This can cause unnecessary strain on recycling centres that have to sift through hundreds of tonnes of non-recyclable matter.”

Nissenbaum concluded: "The majority of people just want to do the right thing in a way that fits their busy lives. It is therefore incumbent on stakeholders in retail, groceries and the wider supply chain to clearly demarcate which packaging is 'plastic-free' and which is suitable for recycling. By supporting consumers in this way, they will inspire greater brand trust among a public whose conscientiousness with plastic waste is only going to grow further in the future.”

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