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Survey: consumers want more sustainable products

A survey of consumers in the UK suggests an overwhelming majority believe society should be more resource-efficient with 60% saying they would accept lifestyle changes to achieve it.

The findings are included in a report from the Centre for Industrial Energy, Materials and Products (CIEMAP), established by a group of UK universities. Green Alliance (GA), an environmental charity and independent think tank, commissioned the report and the survey was carried out by academics at Cardiff University.

The research found that nearly 90% of those asked ‘strongly believed’ that society should be more resource-efficient. Even if a drastic shift towards resource efficiency changed their own lifestyle, more said they would support this shift (60%) than oppose it (13%).

It also showed that measures offering the biggest carbon savings, and over which the UK government has most control, are those that are most popular with the public. The GA says this offers an excellent opportunity for policy makers.

Quick wins urged

As a result, the report, ‘By Popular Demand’, urges policy makers to go for quick wins first by improving the design and lifetimes of products.

‘Policies which encourage the design of resource-efficient products could reduce the embodied emissions of products by nearly 20%,’ it says. ‘This saving could rise to nearly 40% if used in combination with policies that extend product lifetimes and encourage product sharing.’

CIEMAP’s research shows that the most popular policies, which lead to better product and packaging design and longer-lasting products, are also the ones that cut the most carbon emissions.

Researchers surprised

The report argues that resource efficiency policies should therefore be tailored to match people’s values and the results of the survey suggested that cost was not the only driver for consumers.

Professor Nick Pidgeon, who led the team conducting the research, says: ‘We were surprised by the level of agreement from the many people we surveyed and talked to in our workshops.

‘It was overwhelmingly clear that people aren’t satisfied and want to see change. They really care about this. They want higher quality products and less waste. Improving resource efficiency is an easy win for both the public and the environment.”

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