We have been delighted to work with our People Pathway (PW5) partners OC&C Strategy on research ‘Moving Consumers to Sustainable Choices’.

Over 2000 consumer interviews and insights from BRC members have contributed to the research which highlights that the actions that consumers perceive to make the most carbon reduction are not always those that deliver greatest impact.

Key findings:

  • 70% of consumers openly admit they don’t really understand the contributors to their carbon footprint.
  • Consumers are also not aware of the relative impact that different remedial actions would have on their carbon footprint – overestimating the benefits of everyday actions such as re-using plastic bags, and materially underestimating the impact of the more powerful actions, most notably making dietary changes.
  • Low willingness to change behaviour in the areas that will have the greatest impact (dietary changes within grocery and recycle, repair and resale for non-grocery).

Research found that reducing consumption of animal products – including meat, eggs and dairy – on a regular basis, could lower each individual’s carbon emissions by around 1.6 tonnes per year, 13% of an individual’s total annual emissions. Reducing overall meat consumption would reduce annual emissions by 0.9 tonnes per person (7% total), and cutting just red meat would reduce emissions by 0.5 tonnes (4% of total). The average carbon footprint of UK citizens is 12.7 tonnes of CO2 per year.

Other effective actions were recycling at home (0.7 tonnes), reducing volumes of groceries (0.3 tonnes) and reducing volumes of groceries (0.3 tonnes).

However, there was a mismatch between the most popular and most effective actions. While 59% of consumers said they often chose products with less packaging, only 28% were reducing their consumption of animal products, despite this having an eightfold larger effect.

Moving consumers to the choices we need them to make

Industry collectively needs to decide on its priority actions to influence consumers to make better environmental choices

  • Education will be key for helping consumers understand how their purchasing behaviour can move the dial
  • The industry must look to find “win win win” solutions that save consumers money, benefit the environment, and work for retailers
  • Stronger actions may be required if we cannot move consumers towards the industry ambition on reducing emissions

BRC will continue to work with the People Pathway on how to incorporate these findings into future work.

For more information about our Climate Action Roadmap

Listen back to the webinar and read the full report below