Consumers Agree With Initiatives To Reduce Plastic Waste

Consumers are proving open to companies’ efforts to reduce plastic waste. The recent move by Starbucks, Walt Disney Co. and others to move away from plastic straws has been well received by consumers, with a Morning Consult poll finding 67 percent having a favorable view of the decision.

The survey also found that consumers are generally positive about businesses’ recycling efforts, with 66 percent saying that a recycling policy to reduce plastic waste would give them a more favorable impression of a company. However, the survey also revealed that 55 percent of adults believe companies aren’t doing enough to reduce waste.

Starbucks uses one billion plastic straws a year and is phasing them out of its 28,000 global locations, while Walt Disney Co.’s ban will eliminate 175 million straws and 13 million plastic stirrers by 2019. Companies plan on replacing plastic straws with paper ones or other alternatives. Morning Consult’s poll found that 58 percent say they believe banning plastic straws would be effective in reducing waste, although using paper bags (68 percent) and sourcing food locally (63 percent) were more widely accepted practices to reduce waste.

Reducing plastic waste is not expected to have a large quantitative impact on the amount of waste in the ocean and elsewhere, but these moves are expected to have an impact on society’s understanding of plastic and effect on the environment. Speaking to Morning Consult, Lindsey Bier, assistant professor of clinical business communication at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business, said, “The ban on plastic straws alone probably won’t change too much in the grand scheme of things regarding plastic pollution, but from a business perspective, they are symbolic as a step towards more eco-friendly consumption practices. Brands that are banning plastic straws are offering customers the opportunity to feel a personal connection, and they make the consumer feel as if they are making a difference.”

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