Consumers Reduce Waste During COVID

According to COGNITION Smart Data, consumers have become more aware of their plastic and food waste during the pandemic, and they’re actively taking steps to reduce their environmental footprint. And not a moment too soon, given the enormity of our global plastic problem.

The pandemic changed many things about our lives, including our cooking and eating habits.  

A recent survey conducted by COGNITION Smart Data shows that the number-one behavioral change that people have made in response to the pandemic is that they’re cooking more at home. 

Even with the spike in cooking from home, there has been a surge in takeout, delivery, and home-shipped meal kits, and with it, an increased interest in waste reduction.

how has your behavior changed due to coronavirusConcerns about plastic overuse and food waste are mushrooming—especially within the millennial and Gen-Z audience segments.  These individuals are proactively making decisions that transform the concepts of sustainability into lifestyle changes and habits.  

Not only are millennials and Gen-Zs making efforts to reduce their plastic and food waste, but they have also shifted to plant-based diets to improve personal health, address animal welfare and minimize their environmental impact.


But it’s not just millennials and Gen-Zs who are concerned about plastic waste.  A survey of consumers of all ages recently conducted by Datassential revealed that: 

  • 58 percent of respondents say that they feel a personal responsibility to use less plastic. 
  • 70 percent report that the environment is their primary motivation when it comes to finding ways to avoid plastic with purchases.
  • 72 percent indicate that they’ve tried to cut their food waste

Although disposable plastic is difficult to avoid when purchasing food or drinks, more consumers than ever are tackling our mounting plastics problem with reusable containers whenever possible.

Consumers are also putting their money where their mouth is: 66 percent of consumers report that they are more likely to purchase food and drinks from restaurants and manufacturers that use sustainable packaging, offer discounts for customers with reusable containers, compost, and recycle.

The increased interest in plastic waste reduction can’t come a moment too soon: since its invention in the 1950s, we’ve generated nearly 10 billion tons of plastic, only 9 percent of whichever get recycled. 

Somewhere between 8 to 14 million tons of plastic are dumped into the ocean each year, most of which is carelessly tossed away on land and in rivers in Asia (home to 13 of the world’s top 20 plastic waste contributors), and then washed into the sea.  

Our profligate use of plastics has resulted in five massive swirling trash gyres in the North Pacific, North Atlantic, South Pacific, South Atlantic, and Indian oceans. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is now estimated to be 16 times larger than previously thought, weighing in at a preposterous 79,000 tons.

The UK government issued a startling report projecting that plastic pollution will increase three-fold within seven years unless dramatic action is taken, and that, if we stay on our current course, oceans will contain more plastic by weight than fish by 2050.

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