Consumers want to know carbon footprint of household products

18 November 2019

Nearly three quarters of UK consumers believe that manufacturers of household products should be forced to share data on carbon emissions generated during manufacturing to allow them to make better purchasing decisions, reveals new research commissioned by En+ Group, the world’s largest producer of low-carbon aluminium.

The YouGov poll shows that consumers in the UK, Germany and the United States are prepared to pay a premium for products that can demonstrate the carbon footprint of the manufacturing process. However, they are being let down by the lack of information available to help them make environmentally- responsible purchasing decisions. 71% of UK adults believe carbon disclosure should be mandatory but of those who already look for this, 68% are not satisfied with the information available.

Lord Barker, Executive Chairman of En+ Group, said: “Consumers now expect greater transparency in everything - from nutritional data to the working conditions in garment factories. The results of this poll clearly demonstrate that manufacturers of household products used every day across the world need to accept that it is not only their corporate responsibility, but business critical, to respond to growing demand from environmentally-conscious consumers faced with the stark reality of climate change.” 

The results revealed that consumer attitudes will translate to business performance.  In the UK, 34% of respondents are prepared to pay a 5% premium for lower carbon household products and 16% are willing to pay at least 10% more. 32% of German consumers and 33% of US consumers are ready to pay at least 5% more for products with a lower carbon footprint.  And 16% or Germans and 18% or Americans are willing to pay at least 10% more.  

Lord Barker continued:“Consumers understand that the purchasing decisions they make can have a real impact on climate change.  They are willing to pay more for products that can demonstrate a reduced carbon footprint but they are being denied the opportunity to help drive environmental performance simply due to lack of information. The transition toward a low-carbon economy requires immediate commitments from countries and companies to significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and to report openly and accurately so that consumers can make informed decisions. The aluminium industry needs to wake up to this now.”

En+ established the research to understand consumer attitudes as part of its campaign to increase transparency of the carbon content of aluminium. Lightweight and endlessly recyclable, aluminium is vital material for energy-efficient cars, as an alternative to plastics in packaging, and in the design and construction of sustainable buildings. While the aluminium industry contributes 4% of the world’s carbon emissions, low-carbon aluminium has a carbon footprint that is some 20 times smaller than other aluminium produced. En+ is urging the entire aluminium value-chain to join the transition to a low carbon economy and is calling on the London Metals Exchange to set the standard by creating a low-carbon aluminium asset class.

The research polled consumers in the UK, United States and Germany and investigated attitudes to carbon disclosure in the manufacturing of household products, cars as well as materials used in buildings. While British consumers showed more appetite for disclosure of carbon across all categories and a greater willingness to pay more for all lower carbon products, there was strong support for disclosure across all three countries. 

 

Poll results*

  • Consumers care about the carbon footprint of the products they buy 60% of UK consumers care about buying products with a low carbon footprint, compared to 56% of German and 53% of US consumers. If information about a products carbon footprint was easily accessible, 67% of UK consumers would be more likely to purchase lower carbon products over products with higher amounts of emission, compared to 61% of German and 57% of US consumers.
  • Consumers want more information on the carbon footprint of day-to-day products 46% of UK consumers said they are likely to start looking for information on the carbon content of the products they buy, while 68% of UK consumers who already checked this information said they were not satisfied with the availability of information.
  • Manufacturers should be accountable for the carbon footprint of their products 71% of UK consumers believe all companies should be obliged to share the carbon footprints of their products with customers. 60% of US and 58% of German consumers feel the same way.
  • Many consumers would be willing to pay a premium for household products with a lower carbon footprint
  1. 34% of UK consumers would be willing to pay at least a 5% premium for lower carbon household products, with 16% willing to pay at least 10% more.
  2. In Germany, 32% would be willing to pay at least a 5% premium for lower carbon household products, with 16% willing to pay at least 10% more, and in the US, 33% would be willing to pay at least a 5% premium for lower carbon household products, with 18% willing to pay at least 10% more.
  • Consumers are beginning to consider a product’s environmental impact both before and after use. When purchasing drinks on the go, more than twice as many consumers consider recyclability a very important factor (36%) compared to those who consider the carbon footprint very important (17%).
  • Many consumers would be willing to pay a premium for a car with a lower carbon footprint
  1. 63% of UK consumers would be likely to choose a car manufactured with a lower carbon footprint over alternatives, with 28% ‘Very Likely’ to do so, and 28% willing to pay at least a 5% premium for a lower carbon car, and 15% willing to pay at least an extra 10%.
  2. In the US, 55% of consumers would be likely choose a car manufactured with a lower carbon footprint over alternatives, with 24% ‘Very likely’ to do so, and 29% willing to pay at least a 5% premium for a lower carbon car, with 15% willing to pay at least an extra 10%.
  3. In Germany, 52% of consumers would be likely to choose a car manufactured with a lower carbon footprint over alternatives, with 35% ‘Fairly likely’ to do so, and 27% would be willing to pay at least a 5% premium for a lower carbon car, with 13% willing to pay at least an extra 10%.
  • Local governments should block the development of buildings that have high carbon footprints 70% of UK residents said the government should deny new building requests for buildings constructed with higher carbon footprints, compared with 48% of German and 41% of US residents. 82% of UK respondents said they don’t feel well informed about how to select building materials with a low carbon footprint, compared to 76% of German and 64% of US residents.

ENDS

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 5,611 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 18th - 23rd October 2019.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK, US and German adults (aged 18+).

 



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