Research released earlier this year, commissioned by Mastercard, finds that 57% of Australians surveyed regard reducing their carbon footprint as being more important now than they did before the pandemic.
As consumers become more conscious of their own actions, 61% of respondents believe that companies should behave in more sustainable and eco-friendly ways, with millennials (67%) and Gen Z (65%) leading this shift.
Mastercard Australasia Division President Richard Wormald says consumer behaviour among the different generations is clearly changing as people’s priorities shift.
“Many of the longer-term changes that are occurring as a result of Covid-19 are still being formed, giving organisations an opportunity to help shape the ‘next normal’” he says.
Reducing waste and tackling plastic pollution are the first and third most important behaviours for organisations to adopt, according to respondents (38% and 33%, respectively).
“The research suggests that consumers are increasingly expecting organisations to promote sustainable initiatives,” says Mr Wormald. “Australian businesses must take action to reflect these expectations if they hope to continue to engage with these consumers.”
When it comes to businesses that don’t have a plan to help improve the environment, 26% of the young Australians surveyed are sending a clear message, saying they’ll stop buying products from these brands altogether.
This year, retailers have stepped up their sustainability efforts a notch, continuing to do their part with a range of initiatives and achievements.
In May, Woolworths said it had removed about 9000 tonnes of plastic packaging from circulation over the past four years as it works towards transitioning its entire own-brand range to recyclable, compostable or reusable packaging by 2023.
In June, Woolworths said it had made its first renewable power purchase agreement (PPA) with a new-build NSW wind farm expected to inject 195,000MWh of green electricity into the state’s energy grid annually.
The retailer also established a new executive level leadership role solely dedicated to sustainability, appointing Alex Holt as Chief Sustainability Officer.
ALDI claimed in June it had achieved its commitment to power its operations with 100% renewable electricity, six months ahead of schedule.
According to ALDI, the milestone establishes the retailer as the first supermarket in Australia to have all offices, stores and warehouses powered using only renewable electricity sources, resulting in a reduction of the company’s CO2 emissions by 85%.
The transition, says ALDI, was achieved using a “three-pronged approach” comprising on-site generation via its extensive network of solar panels across stores and distribution centres, off-site generation through PPAs with two wind farms, and the acquisition of market renewable energy certificates.
Last month, Coles removed all single-use plastic tableware, including cups, plates, bowls, straws and cutlery, from its stores. The items have been replaced with a wide range of alternatives, including Forest Stewardship Council certified tableware such as timber cutlery and paper plates, and reusable options.
Hand in hand with the removal of single-use plastic tableware, Coles released its ‘sustainability strategy’, setting out its plans to work with customers, suppliers, team members and the community to achieve its ambitions centred around the two pillars of ‘together to zero’ and ‘better together’.
Later that month, Coles committed to no longer give away plastic collectible toys. While collectible toy programs like Little Shop and Stikeez have been popular with customers in the past, says the retailer, they no longer align with Coles’ sustainability ambitions or with customers’ preferences and priorities.
Read about how FMCG brands are addressing sustainability in the August issue of Retail World.