57 per cent of news media readers agreed that they prefer to purchase environmentally-friendly products. 81 per cent report that they voluntarily engage in recycling. But only 24 per cent feet we are doing enough to protect our environment.
These are the findings of new research from Pollinate. The study also shows that 74 per cent of Australians think that manufacturers should take more responsibility for what happens to products when they reach the end of their lifecycle.
Consumers are also increasingly concerned about plastic waste, as are governments around the world. The EU is moving to ban single use plastics, California is considering legislating that plastic in beverage containers be 100 per cent post-consumer material, and here in Australia Product Stewardship legislation is being extended to new industries.
As well as doing playing their own part for the planet, consumers expect industry to get involved.
The most proactive companies that can already see the likely future of sustainably are working hard to get ahead of regulation. Nestle is now using 100 per cent recycled PET in its award-winning Pure Life 700ml bottle and is on track to reach 50 per cent recycled plastic content across its U.S. domestic portfolio by 2025.
Apple now runs all of its operations on 100 per cent renewable energy and supports suppliers transitioning from fossil fuel energy sources. In 2017, Apple voluntarily conducted “supplier responsibility audits” of 756 suppliers in 30 countries, including 197 suppliers that were audited for the first time. Today, only recycled aluminium is used in Apple products, and all packaging uses responsibly-sources fibre.
Businesses are also coming together to bring about change. More than 25 major companies have joined together to launch the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, and have committed $1.5 billion over the next five years to help make this happen. Members include ExxonMobil, Shell Chemical, Total, Mitsubishi Chemicals, Dow, Suez, Violia and Procter and Gamble. A major part of their answer to the plastic problem is to expand collection and management of waste and increase recycling. This fits with the push to a circular economy, where resources are reused rather than wasted.
25 major cities have formally announced the goal of becoming zero waste. Some companies are also moving towards becoming zero-waste certified, meaning 90 per cent or more of their business’ waste is diverted from landfill or incineration to reuse or recycling.
Australian publishes at the forefront of sustainability
Australian publishers were early adopters of sustainable practices and have been using recycled fibre in Australian made newsprint since 1995. It forms part of the industry’s voluntary commitment to a National Environmental Sustainability Agreement endorsed by state and federal governments. The agreement has been running continuously since 1991 and is widely viewed as a success story. Today 74 per cent of all newspapers are recycled, putting us among the best in the world.
The agreement is administered by NewsMediaWorks in partnership with Australia’s newsprint manufacturer Norske Skog, and is unique in the world because it is a whole-of-industry voluntary national agreement. For Australian publishers and newsprint producers this has meant being allowed to tackle environment issues in the most efficient and effective way. It contrasts with the imposition of recycling legislation on publishers in 13 States in the US, which achieved lower recycling rates and imposes higher costs on the industry.
Other businesses are on the front foot, too. The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation, a voluntary/co-regulatory not-for-profit group, is partnering with industry and government to reduce packaging impacts on the environment.
Coca-Cola Australia announced that by the end of this year, 70 per cent of the plastic bottles manufactured for Coca-Cola Australia will be in bottles made with a recycled plastic content. This will include soft drinks and water and juice in small packages. It is all in line with the Coca-Cola Company’s global goal of reducing waste. The company hopes that by 2030 it will be collecting and recycling as many cans and bottles as it sells each year.
Informing the community about sustainability initiatives, including those by the industry, is important. By voluntarily working towards sustainability, businesses can deliver the best economic outcomes for all stakeholders. All brands should be factoring in sustainability to meet these growing expectations of our communities.