Consumers demand honest sustainability from businesses when it comes to their environmental credentials

Reports | Retail


It seems like almost every day there are companies coming out with new environmental promises, but new research has found a large portion of the population aren’t buying a word of it.

Three quarters (76%) of Brits think companies often exaggerate their sustainability efforts, especially when it comes to misrepresenting their figures (58%).

Consumers are willing to do their own research, with over three quarters (77%) of people polled by eco-company Circular&Co. stating it is important to them that they buy from environmentally conscious companies.

This presents a unique challenge for businesses, who are faced with a choice – make good products and be honest about how they affect the environment, or risk losing customers if caught out making promises you can’t substantiate.

The fact of the matter is that businesses shouldn’t have to to lie or exaggerate their efforts, they should simply do their best to make good quality eco-products and publicise those efforts honestly.

Dan Dicker, Founder and CEO of Circular&Co. says: “It’s a well-known fact that both businesses and consumers need to change their habits to become more sustainable, and fast. From our new consumer research, it’s clear to see people are sceptical when it comes to the environmental credentials of businesses and the eco-promises they make. If we aren’t careful, this could isolate customers and they may start to switch off entirely when it comes to making better environmental choices.

“While we’re not trying to shame anyone, we want to encourage companies to do the right thing and for the UK government to regulate sustainability so consumers are fully aware of the products and services they are purchasing.”

Price is a major selling point when it comes to buying environmentally friendly products. While people say they are willing to spend an average of £11 extra to shop with a sustainable brand, lower prices are the main motivation for over half (59%) of people to buy these products in the first place, so they also don’t want to be paying a premium.

Finding this balance is still a work in progress though as supporting infrastructure needs to be more widely in place to make this achievable for businesses.

Rewards could be another way to bargain-loving Brits’ hearts, with almost a third (30%) of people saying they would shop green if there were incentives for doing so.

Looking at the bigger picture, around a quarter (23%) of people polled don’t think the UK will meet its target of net zero carbon by 2050, but they have plenty of ideas when it comes to how we can do better and stand a chance of getting there.

The main thing consumers think businesses need to do is stop using single use plastics (38%). Over a third (35%) of people polled also think the UK needs to more widely invest in new technology and systems to give a second life to waste by recycling and reusing it to create new products.

The vital principles to drive this model are already in use and they’re called Circular Design. While three quarters (76%) of Brits say they have no idea what Circular Design is, it’s interesting that they have already identified the need to adopt it.

Recycling instructions also came up as the source of much confusion for consumers, with more than a third (34%) saying they need to be clearer so every day people can help contribute to meeting the net zero carbon targets.

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