Irish shoppers demand retailers to curb unnecessary plastic packaging, Nielsen finds

New research from Nielsen shows Irish people are willing to educate themselves when it comes to environmental awareness and recycling grocery products and believe it’s the responsibility of retailers to reduce the amount of packaging used on grocery products.

The new survey reveals almost half of Irish shoppers either actively seek products with minimal packaging (48%), actively seek products in recyclable packaging (46%) or actively seek products with no packaging (46%).

This is in light of the European Commission Plastic Strategy announcing in January 2018 the proposal for new legislation that would ensure all plastic packaging on the European market can be reused and recycled by 2030.

Nielsen’s research also found that almost 90% of respondents claim to actively recycle all the plastic packaging they can, with 78% saying they worry about the effect their grocery packaging has on the environment.

The vast majority of Irish shoppers also believe that responsibility lies with the retailers. 88% of respondents think there is too much plastic packaging being used unnecessarily, and 91% believe retailers should do more to reduce the amount of packaging used on grocery products.

Promisingly, plastic bag usage among retailers has decreased dramatically in Ireland since the introduction of the ‘plastic bag levy’, which came into effect in 2002. In addition to this, many of Ireland’s retailers have announced plans to significantly reduce plastic packaging within the next five to seven years, with some initiatives to take effect immediately.

Irish shoppers also believe the government has a role to play, with 75% of those surveyed agreeing the government should intervene to introduce fees or restrictions on producers for the use of plastics. The Irish government has invested heavily in a mass media recycling campaign designed to educate and raise awareness of the importance of recycling and combating plastic waste.

Claire Cullen, Ireland head of analytics at Nielsen, says: “Shoppers needs are changing, and concerns over sustainability and the impact that current consumption behaviour is having on the environment is only gaining momentum. This year, Ireland’s first zero-waste store opened in Clonakilty, Co. Cork where customers are encouraged to fill their own reusable containers from a wide range of dispensers containing food, household cleaning items and cosmetics, and pay by weight.

“The reality is that today, the initiatives designed to address plastic pollution are being led by only a minority of companies, and there is much more that retailers and brands can do to better connect with consumers on this issue. Brands and retailers – of all sizes – and the government have a role to play in the reduction of plastics and pollution and educating consumers about their plans.”