Climate change concern rising, but plastics top of mind for Kiwis

12 Feb 2019
SOURCE:
Colmar Brunton and Sustainable Business Council

For the first time in 10 years, New Zealanders’ concern about climate change has tipped 50%, according to new research by Colmar Brunton.

The latest Colmar Brunton Better Futures report surveyed 1,000 New Zealanders in December 2018 on a wide range of environmental and social issues and is being released in partnership with the Sustainable Business Council.

“For the first time in a decade, more than half of those surveyed expressed a high level of concern about climate change. The challenge now for government and businesses alike is to make climate actions as tangible for New Zealanders as reducing plastics,” says Head of Colmar Brunton Sarah Bolger.

Top 10 concerns for New Zealanders

  1. Build-up of plastic in the environment, 72% (up 9 points from last year)
  2. The cost of living, 68% (no change)
  3. Protection of New Zealand children, 67% (down 1 point)
  4. Suicide rates, 67% (up 3 points)
  5. Violence in society, 65% (down 4 points)
  6. Pollution of lakes, rivers, and seas, 64% (up 4 points)
  7. Caring for the ageing population, 63% (NEW)
  8. The protection of my personal data online, 62% (NEW)
  9. Availability of affordable housing, 61% (up 2 points)
  10. Not having access to good, affordable healthcare, 60% (up 2 points)

“The growing public concern about plastic waste reflects a breakthrough moment around the phase-out of plastic bags and the launch and subsequent suspension of the soft plastics recycling scheme. This has created more pressure for businesses to eliminate unnecessary packaging from their product offerings,” says Ms Bolger.

Along with surveying the level of concern, the research found a growing number (4 out of every 10) New Zealanders are highly committed to living sustainable lifestyles.

“This growing consumer action is an opportunity for businesses to show leadership on sustainability issues,” says Sustainable Business Council Executive Director Abbie Reynolds.

The report found 83% of consumers believe the way businesses talk about their social and environmental commitments is confusing, up 11 points from last year to an all-time high. 7 out of 10 were also unable to name a brand which is a leader in sustainability.

“Businesses with strong social and environmental credentials are viewed as more attractive places to work. However, consumers continue to be suspicious of greenwashing and businesses need to improve how they communicate with consumers to help them make more sustainable choices,” Ms Reynolds says.

Other behaviour indicating an increase in action supporting sustainable lifestyles include consumers increasingly disposing of clothing / household items through online community groups (59%). This will only increase with the popularity of Marie Kondo’s decluttering advice. However, only 25% would buy second-hand rather than new, to avoid buying new stuff.

Vegetarianism and veganism are also on the rise, with 1 in 10 New Zealanders now going mostly or completely meat-free, up from 7% last year.

The report also shows consumers are yet to truly embrace electric vehicles, with 34% are thinking about switching to an electric vehicle. However, 22% probably won’t and 27% don’t want to switch.

MEDIA CONTACTS

Catherine Jeffcoat
Sustainable Business Council Communications Manager
Phone: 021 870 440
cjeffcoat@businessnz.org.nz

Alida Shanks
Marketing and Communications Director
Kantar New Zealand
Phone: 021 782 502
Email alida.shanks@kantar.com

EDITOR NOTES

About the report

The Better Futures 2018 research was conducted between 4 and 11 December 2018 and surveyed 1,000 New Zealanders 18+ years. The Better Futures research has now surveyed a total of 16,600 people over 10 years.

About Colmar Brunton

Colmar Brunton is New Zealand's best known market and social research company, with offices in Auckland and Wellington. Colmar Brunton is part of Kantar, WPP’s insights network covering more than 51 countries around the world.

About the Sustainable Business Council

The Sustainable Business Council is a membership organisation, with a long-term aim to make sustainability mainstream within New Zealand business. They do this by inspiring businesses by creating a community of positive change, supporting members to go further and celebrating their leadership and success. SBC is part of the BusinessNZ family and is the New Zealand Global Network partner to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

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