Rolls of fabric

Six in Ten Consumers Think UK Businesses Need to Act Now on Climate Change

3 November 2021

National consumer survey finds 63% of the UK public think businesses should act immediately on climate change

  • 66% of people agree that businesses should do more to help customers reduce their own impact on climate change.
  • 57% think UK food businesses could or need to be doing more to tackle climate change and cut emissions, 61% said the same for textile/fashion businesses.
  • 41% want businesses to be transparent on climate targets so they can be held accountable.

More than 60 per cent of the UK want business to take immediate action to tackle climate change – and do more to help their customers ‘go green’.

A new national survey commissioned by sustainability charity WRAP shows that a majority of consumers believe companies across industry need to do more when it comes to tackling emissions to help the UK meet tough, binding environmental targets for 2050.

Whether it’s about plastic, food waste and water stewardship or greenhouse gas emissions, public perception is that there is a gap between businesses’ intentions and their actions. WRAP’s findings reveal this perceived inaction gap among consumers and show that the public want businesses to do more to tackle climate change.

The results reveal that 66% of respondents feel businesses should do more to help their customers reduce their own impact on climate change while a further 63% agreed that businesses should act immediately on climate change.

Four in ten (42%) said they thought UK businesses should have a clear step-by-step plan in place to reach their climate goals and 41% said that businesses should be transparent on their targets as well as regularly publishing their progress so that they can be held accountable.

When asked about specific sectors, 57% of respondents said UK food businesses could or need to be doing more to tackle climate change and cut emissions, while 61% said they felt the same for UK textile/fashion businesses.

The research also shows that when it comes to delivering change, collaboration is key in the opinion of consumers. The findings reveal 40% believe UK businesses should be working with each other to tackle climate change issues within their sector or industry.

Dr David Moon, Director of Collaboration & Change at WRAP commented: People are making it clear that they expect businesses to lead the way on tackling climate change and are prepared to walk away from brands if they don’t change. It’s also apparent that there is a willingness and desire for business to collaborate and work together on the best ways of combating climate change and guiding the UK along the path to ‘Net Zero’. Bringing down emissions and adapting to the concerns of customers should now be at the forefront of business thinking. Time is running out for companies to act.”

The findings also show the importance of reputation when it comes to consumer spending on fashion brands, as 52% of respondents said their decision to purchase items from a clothing brand would be influenced by whether it had a reputation for taking no action to mitigate climate change.

Unsurprisingly, COVID-19 has also had an impact on people’s purchasing habits, with exactly half (50%) agreeing that the pandemic had made them more likely to buy from brands that take positive social and environmental action.

While the UK’s emissions targets (78% cut by 2035) could set it ahead of the rest of Europe if achieved, the research reveals almost a third (30%) think that UK businesses in the textile and fashion industries are behind other countries in delivering on climate change targets, with 29% saying the same for food and drink businesses.

With COP26 starting this week, WRAP is calling for more businesses to put plans into place to tackle climate change and reduce emissions by signing up to its Voluntary Agreements. These collaborative change programmes are created to enable businesses to reduce their individual environmental impacts, and together drive sector-wide change in key areas of production and consumption. They support businesses in setting targets, focusing on priorities, sharing insights, preparing for new taxes and regulations, measuring progress, testing new solutions, and accelerating systemic action across the whole product chain to reduce Scope 3 emissions.

Dr David Moon: “Our world-leading programme of Voluntary Agreements provides the perfect opportunity for businesses to make practical changes to their operations towards science-based targets that can mitigate against the impacts they are having on the environment. And demonstrate to customers their commitments to reducing emissions. With COP26, there’s never been a more important time for UK businesses to confront these issues head-on over the next decade and join those who have.

“We have successfully run programmes that bring together global businesses, major retailers and smaller-scale organisations for more than 15 years, but our work isn’t done. Our aim is to work with more businesses and people to show them how they can make a real change through their operations and support them throughout each stage of the journey. And to expand this work globally with partners around the world.  We invite businesses to get in touch.”

WRAP’s Voluntary Agreements include The UK Plastics Pact, Textiles 2030 and Courtauld Commitment 2030. These transformative programmes are designed for businesses to address plastic pollution, water stewardship, carbon emissions and food waste, delivering the real change that the public is now demanding.

Those signed up to The UK Plastics Pact include McDonalds, Tesco and Unilever and all are aiming for 100% of the plastic packaging they use to be fully recyclable by 2025. Although only six months old, Textiles 2030 already includes signatories like Primark, GymShark and ASOS and aims to reduce the aggregate greenhouse gas footprint of new products by 50%. The Courtauld Commitment 2030 is a pan-industry agreement with manufacturers, retailers and food service businesses all working collaboratively to achieve key targets across food, emissions and water and to halve the UK’s GHG footprint by 2030.

The GHG targets for Textiles 2030 and Courtauld 2030 have the ambition to “keep 1.5 degrees alive”.

Notes to Editor

About WRAP

WRAP is a global NGO based in the UK. It is one of the UK’s top 5 environmental charities and works with governments, businesses and individuals to ensure that the world’s natural resources are used more sustainably. It is the charity leading the UK Plastics Pact (a world first), Courtauld Commitment 2030, Textiles 2030 as well as the citizen campaigns Love Food Hate Waste, Love Your Clothes, Clear on Plastics and Recycle Now. WRAP works collaboratively and develops and delivers evidence-based, solutions to reduce the environmental cost of the food we eat, the clothes we wear and the plastic packaging we use. Founded in 2000 in the UK, WRAP now works around the world and is a Global Alliance Partner of The Royal Foundation’s Earthshot Prize

About the survey

Censuswide consumer survey, of more than 2,000 UK respondents, September 2021.