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Sustainability in Focus: A Business Imperative in 2022

Sarah Praetorius

May 27, 2022 · 5 min read

Sustainability in Focus: A Business Imperative in 2022 image

Sustainability is en vogue. Or more so, while being a hotly debated political issue, sustainability is also becoming deeply embedded within the fabric of our culture as the new norm. Our society is becoming more conscious, and this has profoundly informed the way the modern consumer makes purchases. Customers increasingly prefer brands that integrate environmental or social concerns into their products.

Recent research by Deloitte showed that:

• 23% of consumers say they will switch to buying products from an organization that shares their values on environmental issues.

• 42% have changed consumption habits themselves because of their stance on the environment.

• 21% have encouraged others to switch to a company whose values align with their opinion on an issue.

Covid seems to have exponentially amplified this sentiment. BCG’s study of 3,000 people across 8 countries during the pandemic found that 87% believed companies should integrate more environmental concerns into their products. McKinsey and Deloitte even stated that consumer concerns about climate change reached a tipping point in 2021.

Meet the Green Consumer: Why sustainable branding matters

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Incorporating sustainability into marketing is crucial for brand health and longevity. Rather than just focusing on the value that a product or service can bring an individual, customers now seek brands whose beliefs and values align with theirs. A 2020 IBM study on branding and modern consumerism elucidated that individuals are rapidly shifting from being value-driven consumers to purpose-driven consumers.  In fact, consumers now expect brands to take a leadership role in facilitating behavior that's important to them. A study by Accenture showed that 62% of consumers want companies to stand up for issues they are passionate about.

Sustainable brands experience increased loyalty and revenue

Today a brand’s activism correlates to their brand loyalty and revenue. A prime example of a brand rewarded for their eco-conscious brand purpose is Patagonia.  Since its foundation in 1985 Patagonia has pledged 1% of its sales to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment. Since then Patagonia has become a $1 billion dollar powerhouse. Patagonia has consistently used its profits to implement solutions for the environmental crisis and social activism, and has consequently become one of the most popular retail brands in the world.

Despite counter-intuitive business moves in the name of sustainability, Patagonia has managed to turn ethics into earnings. The counter-intuitive campaign,  Don’t Buy This Jacket, that encouraged consumers not to buy their products on Black Friday by illuminating the environmental impact of the manufacturing process, brought Patagonia a 30% increase in sales. In 2018, Patagonia took on Donald Trump and donated $10,000,000 to environmental causes in the Trump Tax Cut. Additionally, it boycotted Silicon Valley and Wall Street by refusing to co-brand with companies who do not share their purpose of saving the planet.

However, Patagonia’s continued dedication has not only helped the environment but led to continuous brand loyalty, revenue, trust, and inspiration. In a 2021 study on the most reputable corporations in the U.S across various industries, Patagonia came in first place, with an index score of 82.7, based on the consumer perception of the brand.

Consumers increasing conflict about plastic

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Of the growing environmental concerns amongst consumers, one of the most prominent is the plastic crisis:

  • A UNEP survey on consumerism and the plastic problem showed that 91% of consumers were concerned about plastic waste issues.
  • Studies by Deloitte showed that 64% of consumers list recycling and reusing among their top three concerns, while another 64% list reducing single-use plastics in the top three.
  • Studies on consumers’ awareness of plastic packaging, found that consumers associate plastic packaging with far more than environmental problems.
  • A McKinsey & Company survey of over 2000 UK and German participants in April 2020, showed that 60% of people expressed they are now going out of their way to recycle and purchase products in environmentally friendly packaging.
  • A survey by Oceana found that 87% of consumers think major online retailers should curb the amount of plastic packaging they use.
  • 82% of businesses were extremely concerned about plastic waste issues. However, less than half felt that their current efforts were sufficient to address the problem.

While research continuously shows us that consumers are experiencing an increased aversion toward plastic, many brands do not know how to truly reduce their plastic burden. This being for the simple reason that plastic is often difficult to replace, while there is little financial incentive to recycle. It’s far less expensive to manufacture most types of plastic from scratch than it is to recycle it. However, while we may not always be able to replace plastic, Precycle has made it possible for companies to offset their plastic footprint.

How brands can easily become plastic-conscious with Precycle

precycle shopify app

Precycle has developed an easy plug-in solution that let’s e-commerce businesses offset their plastic footprint with the click of a button. A simple banner is built into your checkout page, where customers can click to add plastic compensation to their order. For every 1€ purchased, 1kg of plastic is removed from the environment. The plastic compensation option at your brand’s checkout will be directed towards fair plastic waste collection and infrastructure development of plastic waste management sectors in the Global South. Precycle also provides you with an impact report that will allow you to share your transparency and collective impact with your customers.

Becoming a more sustainable brand, and making a concrete positive impact in the world can truly be that easy! With the circular economy gaining momentum, and business leaders around the globe placing sustainability at the top of their agendas, it’s time for all brands, small and large to start taking action on issues that are close to their and their customers hearts. It’s time for all of us to start pulling our weight, and start compensating for the products that bring us profit or pleasure. Precycle’s plastic plugin is an inexpensive and easy solution for your brand to evolve with the zeitgeist of sustainability. It’s really that easy to offset your footprint and make a difference. If you’re interested in finding out more please join us at https://www.precycle.today/business.

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