While more than 90 per cent of Australian consumers and businesses are concerned about environmental sustainability, only half believe they’re doing enough to protect the planet, according to a new study from HP Australia and Planet Ark.
And consumers expect businesses and brands to take the lead. Respondents felt businesses and brands should be most responsible for their impact on the environment, above individuals, retailers and governments, according to the study.
The HP Australia Environmental Sustainability Study 2018 was commissioned to uncover the perceptions, values and behaviours of Australian consumers and businesses towards environmental sustainability.
It surveyed over 1,000 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).
The study reveals nine in ten Australian consumers and businesses are concerned about environmental sustainability and an even greater number are concerned about plastic pollution. But only half of Australians (consumers: 48 per cent; businesses: 50 per cent) feel they are doing enough in their everyday lives to protect the environment.
The study also shows more than two in three Australian consumers (71 per cent) and three in four (77 per cent) Australian businesses are willing to pay more for environmentally-friendly products.
In the workplace, 70 per cent 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 per cent) of Australians aged 46-53.
As the battle for talent grows, and Gen Y increasingly dominate the workforce, this suggests the need for a major shift in the environmental policies and practices of Australian businesses and brands, the study notes.
HP South Pacific managing director, Paul Gracey, said Australians are starting to recognise the impact their day-to-day behaviours have on the health of the environment, but more needs to be done.
“HP Australia has been a long-standing supporter of Planet Ark. 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 future-proof their business.”
The study also reveals Australians are still falling behind in recycling e-waste. 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 study finds 50 per cent of Australian consumers and 44 per cent of businesses don’t recycle ink and toner cartridges.
According to Planet Ark, these consumer attitudes represent an opportunity for Australian companies to not only deliver the environmental outcomes that matter most to Australian consumers, but secure a greater share of customer wallets.
“It’s no longer enough for companies to have environmentally sustainable practices – they need to encourage these behaviours in others,” said Planet Ark recycling programs manager, Ryan Collins.
“Our environment is the most important resource we have and to keep it healthy we must promote better sustainability practises.
“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. At Planet Ark, our focus is on enabling companies to be part of the solution and we’re proud to be working alongside HP to better educate Australian consumers and businesses.”