Research shows Australians looking for guidance on global warming

Monday, 10 November, 2008

'Recycling’ is Australia’s most widely understood environmental term and is considered the most practical and tangible way for the public to ‘do their bit', according to research conducted by Mobium Group.

While 70% of Australians say they ‘understand well’ the term ‘recycled’, only 12% have a similar understanding of carbon trading and 40% say they have ‘never heard of’ carbon offsets.

The research also revealed:

  • 9 in 10 Australians believe it’s important for companies to ‘consider the impact of their operations on the environment and community and not just make profits’;
  • More than 85% of Australians say they are ‘often sceptical about the health and environmental claims that companies make about their products and services’;
  • 75% of Australians indicate they ‘often find environmental issues complex and would like information about the environmental benefits and impacts of their product and service choices’;
  • Greater than 80% of consumers maintain they prefer environmentally friendly packaging materials.

Mobium Group’s research director Nick Bez commented: “Most Australians are aware of high-profile  environmental issues such as greenhouses gases and carbon trading; however, the vast majority struggle to fully understand or explain these issues.”

The research further re-enforces the findings from the 2007 study highlighting that the often abstract, technical and jargon-filled communication on environmental matters from government and business is missing its mark.

“Organisations need to focus on solutions and personalise the context of sustainability whilst providing simple, clear and credible information to let individuals make informed choices about their behavioural and lifestyle impacts," Bez said.

“As recycling is a well entrenched practice for large numbers of Australian households and has a visible outcome attached, it can provide a good starting point for individuals to further explore environmentally preferable options within their home, work or school environment.”

Visy director of sustainability Tony Gray said Australians’ strong identification with recycling meant it was an ideal vehicle to help engage the community about the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

“Australians clearly understand the benefits of recycling so it makes sense to build on that knowledge by explaining the importance of recycling as an emissions reduction activity," Gray said.

“Recycling plays a key role in avoiding greenhouse emissions by preventing materials ending up in landfills where they would break down to form methane — a greenhouse gas more than 20 times more potent than CO2."

Gray said Australia is estimated to recover more than 12 million tonnes of recyclable materials annually, resulting in a total greenhouse benefit of more than 8.8 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent to taking 1.8 million cars off the road annually.

He said by actively promoting recycling and landfill avoidance as part of its Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, the federal government could help improve Australians’ understanding and participation in the battle against climate change.


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