Consumers highly value products made from recycled materials that are also recyclable at the end of their lifecycle. In our survey, a large majority believed that products made from recycled materials are of an equal quality to those made from virgin resources.
Recycled vs. virgin raw materials
In The Circular Voice, Stena Recycling's survey, 5,000 consumers were asked if they believed that products made from recycled materials are of an equal quality to products made from virgin resources.
A 66% majority believed that recycled materials are of the same quality, while 21% were uncertain.
These results show that companies must aim to convince uncertain consumers that recycled materials are of a high enough quality and offer significant climate benefits. The survey also reveals that 76% consider it important, or very important, that manufacturers use recycled materials in their products.
The importance of material selection in climate-smart products
With ever more companies setting ambitious climate impact targets, it’s widely understood that sustainable brands attract value-driven consumers who choose products that enable a climate-smart lifestyle.
Our survey shows the potential for manufacturing companies that offer a range of products made from recycled materials that are also recyclable at the end of their lifecycle.
– Manufacturers that map their climate impact often see that material selection has a significant effect. Sometimes, it’s the dominant factor in the climate impact of their products. Therefore, our supply of recycled raw materials is important to companies seeking to offer climate-smart products. Many are already working on this, although many others have not yet fully mapped their customers' attitudes to sustainable products. The Circular Voice survey gives them a little extra support in that area, says Anna Sundell, Head of Sustainability at Stena Recycling's parent company Stena Metall.
Demand for improved product labeling
Clear product information is of great importance to consumers seeking sustainable products. In our survey, 77% considered it important that products are clearly marked with the amount of recycled material they contain.
This is something manufacturers need to take seriously. If consumers can’t tell which goods are made from recycled material, even climate-smart products risk failure. Almost 80% of those surveyed believed clear, easy-to-understand labeling to be important, or very important, in their assessment of a product’s sustainability. 27% also believed that insufficient information about the content of recycled material is the main obstacle to buying sustainable products.
Consumer perception of sustainable products
Consumers were asked about other factors that affect their assessment of a product’s sustainability. In addition to product labeling, several other factors were considered important or very important:
recyclability (76%), energy consumption (78%), ease of repair (77%) and responsible manufacturing (75%).
- It’s pleasing that consumers highly value the recyclability of products. As implied by our survey, they are demanding standards with uniform definitions that can guide them. Recyclability is a complex issue. On a day-to-day basis, we work with companies seeking a deeper understanding of recycling processes and how product design can increase recyclability, says Stina Klingvall, Consultant at Stena Circular Consulting.
It's noteworthy that recyclability is considered more important than energy consumption, which has long been a major selling point for certain products. In our survey, 40% would even support a ban on products that can’t be recycled.