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60% of consumers want UK businesses to act now tackling emissions

2nd Nov 2021 - 06:00
WRAP consumer green business climate change
More than 60% of the UK want business to take immediate action to tackle climate change – and do more to help their customers ‘go green’.

A new national survey commissioned by sustainability charity WRAP shows that a majority of consumers believe companies across industry need to do more when it comes to tackling emissions to help the UK meet tough, binding environmental targets for 2050.

Whether it’s about plastic, food waste and water stewardship or greenhouse gas emissions, public perception is that there is a gap between businesses’ intentions and their actions.

WRAP’s findings reveal this perceived inaction gap among consumers and show that the public want businesses to do more to tackle climate change.

The results reveal that 66% of respondents feel businesses should do more to help their customers reduce their own impact on climate change while a further 63% agreed that businesses should act immediately on climate change.

Four in ten (42%) said they thought UK businesses should have a clear step-by-step plan in place to reach their climate goals and 41% said that businesses should be transparent on their targets as well as regularly publishing their progress so that they can be held accountable.

When asked about specific sectors, 57% of respondents said UK food businesses could or need to be doing more to tackle climate change and cut emissions, while 61% said they felt the same for UK textile/fashion businesses. 

The research also shows that when it comes to delivering change, collaboration is key in the opinion of consumers. The findings reveal 40% believe UK businesses should be working with each other to tackle climate change issues within their sector or industry.

Dr David Moon, director of collaboration and change at WRAP, said: “People are making it clear that they expect businesses to lead the way on tackling climate change and are prepared to walk away from brands if they don’t change.

“It’s also apparent that there is a willingness and desire for business to collaborate and work together on the best ways of combating climate change and guiding the UK along the path to ‘Net Zero’. Bringing down emissions and adapting to the concerns of customers should now be at the forefront of business thinking. Time is running out for companies to act.”

The findings also show the importance of reputation when it comes to consumer spending on fashion brands, as 52% of respondents said their decision to purchase items from a clothing brand would be influenced by whether it had a reputation for taking no action to mitigate climate change. 

Unsurprisingly, Covid-19 has also had an impact on people’s purchasing habits, with exactly half (50%) agreeing that the pandemic had made them more likely to buy from brands that take positive social and environmental action.

While the UK’s emissions targets (78% cut by 2035) could set it ahead of the rest of Europe if achieved, the research reveals almost a third (30%) think that UK businesses in the textile and fashion industries are behind other countries in delivering on climate change targets, with 29% saying the same for food and drink businesses.

WRAP is calling for more businesses to put plans into place to tackle climate change and reduce emissions by signing up to its Voluntary Agreements.

These collaborative change programmes are created to enable businesses to reduce their individual environmental impacts, and together drive sector-wide change in key areas of production and consumption. They support businesses in setting targets, focusing on priorities, sharing insights, preparing for new taxes and regulations, measuring progress, testing new solutions, and accelerating systemic action across the whole product chain to reduce Scope 3 emissions.

Written by
David Foad