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91% of Consumers Consider Use of Plastic  When Making Purchase Decisions

91% of Consumers Consider Use of Plastic When Making Purchase Decisions

Oct. 14, 2022
"Consumers believe producers have a duty to create products that create a positive impact, and they say they are willing to pay more for eco-conscious alternatives," Jeff Seabright of Xampla.

With the recent awareness of plastic-related pollution, 91% of Americans consider the amount of plastic used in a product when making purchase decisions, and 45% believe producers – companies that produce products made of plastic or packaged in plastic – are most responsible for addressing and solving the plastic pollution issue, according to a new survey.

The survey, commissioned by UK-based Xampla, which is making the world’s first plant protein alternative to plastic for commercial use, also found more than half of those surveyed (57%) are very concerned or extremely concerned about the plastic problem.

Despite consumers’ conscientious approach to purchasing, they believe the companies who make plastic products are most responsible for addressing pollution issues.

“Consumers are clearly frustrated with this issue and are looking for companies to do better,” said Jeff Seabright, former Unilever chief sustainability officer who also serves as the Xampla chairperson. “The mantra to reduce, reuse and recycle only scratches the surface of the problem. It’s time to reimagine, redesign and replace for the sake of our planet and future generations.”

Seabright, who led the White House task force on climate change for the Clinton administration and whose three-decades-long career in sustainability included serving as vice-president of environment and water resources at Coca-Cola, believes producers need to reimagine their role in the ecosystem. Instead of casting responsibility upon the consuming marketplace, producers must embrace innovation and take action. They must redesign products in harmony with nature, utilizing natural and bio-degradable components, and replace single-use plastics with non-polluting alternatives.

“The problem with plastic is our own engineering,” said Seabright. “Plastic is designed to last, not to break down. By embracing an innovator’s mindset, producers can not only tackle pollution, but also attract consumers who are increasingly looking to support – and buy from – companies making a positive impact on the environmental issues they care about.”

Conversations around plastic pollution, the growing “plastic problem,” and failed solutions to the issue have been in political contention for the past decade. State and federal entities have stepped in to implement legislation designed to change both consumer and manufacturer habits to help combat further plastic pollution.

Most recently, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 54, requiring all packaging in the state to be recyclable or compostable by 2032, cutting plastic packaging by 25% in 10 years and requiring 65% of all single-use plastic packaging to be recycled in the same timeframe.

“Government can make a difference,” added Seabright. “But consumers are right to point to brands and manufacturers as the ones who can make the biggest impact, most quickly.”

While legislation can be a player in building a solution to the issue, only 25% of Americans believe it is the government’s responsibility to find solutions to plastic pollution, while 30% stated it was up to consumers, in comparison to the 45% that felt the plastic producers were most responsible for finding solutions and alternatives, according to the survey.

“Producers have the responsibility to create products that don’t harm the environment,” said Seabright. “Through the reduce, reuse, recycle campaigns of the past decade, consumers have shouldered the responsibility of reversing the plastic problem, but we cannot reverse this destructive pattern of pollution without producers changing their practices. Consumers believe producers have a duty to create products that create a positive impact, and they say they are willing to pay more for eco-conscious alternatives.”

Xampla’s study found that more than half of Americans (53%) are at least moderately willing to pay more for products that use no plastic, significantly less plastic or non-polluting plastic alternatives.