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Consumers rate recyclability as top “green” buying criterion, says MPMA report

The recyclability of a product and its packaging, the degree of wastage entailed in its consumption, (including how much is thrown away before use due to it being “past its sell-by date”), and the energy used to produce it are the most important “green” criteria in the minds of UK shoppers when buying food goods, recent research for the Metal Packaging Manufacturers Association (MPMA) by top pollsters ICM reveals.

With just 12% of the 1,043 adults questioned for the MPMA’s “Basket Of Goods” survey* citing the distance travelled by goods as the most important ““green” factor to measure (behind recycling – 30%; energy – 24%, and landfill – 18%), the research casts some doubt on the wisdom of the major current supermarket focus on the distance goods have travelled to store.

Eighty-nine per cent of respondents cited a product’s ability to be recycled as the most important factor in the overall “green” hierarchy and the single most important environmental criterion supermarkets should consider when assessing the environmental impact of the products they sell. Recyclability was followed closely by wastage (77%), ahead of landfill (74%), the energy used to make and package the product (68%) and how far product and packaging had travelled.

MPMA director Tony Woods said: ”This survey shows clearly that, as retailers strive to develop a measurement and labelling system to help their customers assess the environmental impact of the products they buy, it is not necessarily the most obvious environmental features that are top of the mind with their customers. Food miles, for example, does not appear to be the overriding concern some commentators would have us believe.”

He adds: “The onus is now on manufacturers and retailers to work together to develop a single system of labelling or packaging so consumers can relate the products they buy to the sustainability features they want. The importance of these issues cannot be underestimated.” For copies of the “Basket of Goods” survey (*the research was based on the environmental perceptions of nine typical items in a weekly shopping basket ¬- a loaf of bread, milk in a plastic bottle, a box of cereal, a tin of tomatoes or baked beans, a packet of crisps or snack in a packet, instant coffee in a jar, fresh or long-life juice from a carton, any type of canned drink, and a ready meal) contact the MPMA: T: +44 (0)1189 255520; E:

Tony Woods: “The MPMA wants to ensure that fair, reasonable and responsible scoring systems are established.” DF3W9681