British people are ‘most willing to change their personal consumption behaviour to conserve resources in response to the pandemic, according to a new study.
The study found that willingness to change behaviour in order to conserve resources is ‘most pronounced’ in the UK compared to other European countries.
Almost half of the respondents (48%) already consume fewer goods and services now or in the future.
36% of the British respondents stated they have not changed their personal consumption of resources during the corona crisis and do not plan to do so.
The results in the UK show that it is the younger people between the age of 18 and 29 who are most likely to forego consumption
In France and Norway, half of the respondents ‘did not’ change and ‘will not’ change their consumption habits due to corona, and in Germany, this is almost two thirds (63%).
Norwegian circular economy technologies firm, TOMRA, commissioned the “ReThink study“ with the survey institute Kantar, asking c.4,000 people in the UK, Norway, France and Germany about their consumption and shopping behaviour since the corona pandemic, with around 1,000 responding from each country.
The results in the UK show that it is the younger people between the age of 18 and 29 who are most likely to forego consumption. In this age group, 56% stated that they consume less. In the group of people aged 60 and over, the figure was only 40%.
The gender comparison shows that while 54% of women say they limit their consumption, only 43% of men said the same.
The hesitancy to consume in the areas such as clothing, travel and luxury goods, for example, can ‘only partly be explained’ by the economic and social life that has declined as a result of the corona pandemic, says Volker Rehrmann, responsible for the Circular Economy division at TOMRA.
“Overall, the population is becoming more aware of the global economic situation and using resources more responsibly,” says Rehrmann.
“The experience with the corona pandemic would have reinforced this, especially here, as the UK was hit particularly hard by the crisis.
When it comes to living more sustainably in everyday life, there is often still a gap between aspiration and reality
“When it comes to living more sustainably in everyday life, there is often still a gap between aspiration and reality.
“Additionally, more information is needed about which small steps can achieve great things. For example, separating plastic and cardboard packaging before throwing them away.”
In this context, TOMRA recently-launched “ReSociety”; an initiative and platform that intends to ‘bring together’ knowledge and ideas from companies, politics and consumers – with the common goal of completely rethinking the world for a more sustainable future.
The ReThink study sets out to examine trends and developments on the path to a “circular economy” every two years – a global circular economy that redefines the term growth by focusing on positive social and ecological developments.
According to the study, most respondents to the study (85%) believe it’s time to rethink how disposable packaging is handled.
In fact, 72% of Brits say they already avoid plastic when shopping. At the same time, 49% are not willing to pay more money so that the goods can be produced or packaged more sustainably.
Conscious consumption combined with a high recycling rate – these two factors together can make an enormous contribution to the resource revolution that we need for a sustainable future
For comparison, in Germany, 47% of those surveyed ‘reject additional spending’, TOMRA says – in Norway this is 45% and in France the figure is 50%.
Across all countries, the older the age group surveyed, the less willingness there is to pay more – this willingness only increases slightly again with the age group of 60 and above.
A global circular economy
TOMRA says, as consumer behaviour is ‘only slowly;’ changing and a growing global population will continue to consume huge amounts of resources in the future, the scenario of a global circular economy is becoming increasingly important, especially for plastics.
It has announced that it will collect and recycle 40% of the post-consumer plastic packaging worldwide by 2030.
Currently, only 14% is collected for recycling purposes worldwide – and most of it is not reused for the same purpose but has to be classified in a lower quality category, it says.
The participants in the study in Germany, France, the UK and Norway also seem to see the enormous potential, with a majority – 94% – of all respondents agreeing that the topic of recycling will become ‘more important in the future’, or at least not lose its importance.
A modern recycling infrastructure can help ensure that this is not a theory – because it motivates consumers to actively participate in this cycle, says Rehrmann.
“Conscious consumption combined with a high recycling rate – these two factors together can make an enormous contribution to the resource revolution that we need for a sustainable future.”