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Want to build customer trust? Reduce your plastic usage, reveals survey

Turns out, more than store discounts, Australian customers are more likely to favour businesses that are working on reducing their plastic usage.

According to new research by the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) in collaboration with the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), plastic reduction programs top the list of corporate social responsibility strategies that resonate most strongly with consumers. 

“Consumers have spoken – they want to see action on plastics given their unacceptable impact on the natural environment, and they’re going to be drawn to the brands that are showing leadership on this front compared to those who are dragging the chain,” said ARA CEO Paul Zahra.

The other important CSR tactics for the Australian market include healthy food choices for children, plastic recycling, fair trade, and racial equality.

Consumer sentiment favouring plastic reduction comes after numerous states like Western Australia and NSW have implemented bans on single use plastics. In the ACT, plastic straws and cotton buds with plastic sticks will also be outlawed from 1 July.

“Addressing environmental challenges is a top priority for the industry and pleasingly, we’ve seen many retailers go above and beyond government mandates in eradicating plastic items ahead of time,” added Mr Zahra.

“However, we remain concerned for small businesses who’ve been in survival mode these past two years. We need to focus on educating those businesses that might be straggling and provide flexibility as they make the necessary arrangements to use more sustainable products.”

QUT Professor and chair of the ARA’s Consumer Research Advisory Committee Gary Mortimer adds that these insights are crucial for retail leaders in the planning stages of sustainability programs.

“Retail leaders are genuinely seeking deeper insights into not only what consumers want but also how they respond to environmental and sustainability practices,” he said. “Before implementing a new sustainability program, it is vital to understand the potential impact and consumer response to such programs.”

READ MORE: Victoria invests $1.6m towards recycled plastic railway sleepers

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Rhea Laxmi Nath

Rhea Laxmi Nath

Rhea L Nath is a Sydney-based writer and editor. In 2022, she was named Young Journalist of the Year at the NSW Premier's Multicultural Communications Awards.

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