Nine in 10 Australians concerned about sustainability: survey
A new study from HP Australia and Planet Ark has found that while over 90% of Australian consumers and businesses are concerned about environmental sustainability, only half believe they are doing their fair share to protect the planet.
The HP Australia Environmental Sustainability Study 2018 was commissioned to uncover the perceptions, values and behaviours of Australian consumers and businesses towards environmental sustainability. Conducted by PHD Research, the study surveyed over 1000 Australian Gen X (aged 38–53) and Gen Y (aged 22–37) consumers and more than 600 Australian businesses, ranging from SoHo (small office/home office with 1–4 employees) to medium-sized (51–500 employees).
Consistent across all respondent segments was the view that businesses and brands should be most responsible for their impact on the environment, above individuals, retailers and governments. And with 71% of consumer and 77% of business respondents stating a willingness to pay a premium for environmentally sustainable products, they are willing to back this up with their wallets.
In the workplace, 70% of Australians aged 22–30 stated a strong preference or desire to work for a company that promotes environmentally sustainable practices, compared to under half (48%) of Australians aged 46–53. As Gen Y increasingly dominates the workforce, this suggests the need for a major shift in the environmental policies and practices of Australian businesses and brands.
“It is no longer enough for companies to have environmentally sustainable practices — they need to encourage these behaviours in others,” said Ryan Collins, Recycling Programs Manager, Planet Ark.
“Today’s consumers have good intentions but look to brands to help them to make positive changes towards protecting the environment in their day to day.”
While Gen Y was found to express more concern about the environment than their Gen X counterparts, Gen Xs were found to be more proactive in minimising their impact on the environment by regularly adopting sustainable practices including choosing re-usable bags over plastic bags, separating recycling types/items into the correct bins, avoiding wasting water and even recycling e-waste. Still, adoption of ‘keep-cups’ for takeaway coffees was more prevalent among Gen Ys, with take-up 10% higher than among Gen Xs.
According to the study, Australians — both consumers and businesses — see marine plastic pollution, landfill waste and impact on the natural environment as the three leading environmental sustainability concerns. However, the study also uncovered a worrying lack of awareness around how consumers can best recycle e-waste — the fastest growing waste stream in Australia.
The study found 50% of Australian consumers and 44% of businesses do not recycle ink and toner cartridges. For the well-intending majority, access and education remain the greatest barriers to boosting their environmental sustainability efforts in this area.
Paul Gracey, Interim Managing Director at HP South Pacific, encourages consumers and businesses to talk to their local council about e-waste and other recycling initiatives, such as Cartridges 4 Planet Ark (C4PA). HP is a founding member of the C4PA program, which offers individuals, households and small businesses a place to drop off their used printer cartridges at any C4PA collection point for recycling. The materials from these returned cartridges are being turned into various products, such as pens, rulers, picnic tables and even asphalt.
“Also look at your home or office and think about how green the products you use truly are,” Gracey said. “Take your printer, for example. It’s not just about whether you can recycle the paper your printer uses, but the ink and toner cartridges as well, even the components of the printer itself. The flow-on effects can be significant.”
HP’s closed-loop recycling process uses plastic from recycled Original HP cartridges, plus recycled bottles and hangers, to create new Original HP cartridges. Since 2000, more than 90 million kilograms of recycled plastic have been used, diverting almost 5000 tractor-trailer loads of plastic from reaching oceans or landfills.
“HP Australia has been a longstanding supporter of Planet Ark,” Gracey said. “Through this research collaboration we aim to help Australian consumers uncover new ways to help the planet, while putting a spotlight on the need for businesses and brands to take meaningful action towards becoming more environmentally sustainable — both for the health of the planet and to futureproof their business.”
The HP Australia Environmental Sustainability Study 2018 is available for download here.
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