Companies have a primary role in driving the increased use of recycled materials in products. And more products are needed that enable a climate-smart lifestyle. Consumers express the high expectations they have for companies in Stena Recycling's European consumer survey - The Circular Voice.
Ultimately, it’s consumers who decide how attractive a product is. But what are their expectations of manufacturers and retailers concerning climate-smart products? And what do they think about the range of products currently on offer?
In February 2022, we asked 5,000 consumers in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Poland for their views and expectations about sustainable products, especially the use of recycled materials and recyclability. The results are published in our report - The Circular Voice.
Business community should take the lead
In The Circular Voice, 33% of those surveyed believed the business community should take the primary role in increasing the availability of sustainable products. 24% believed it was the responsibility of individual consumers, although buying behavior also communicates changing consumer attitudes to manufacturers and retailers. 18% believed that politicians and government should drive these changes.
- The survey shows the demand among consumers for circular, sustainable products. However, the range is often very limited and it’s, therefore, difficult for them to make active choices. Without doubt, there are great opportunities for manufacturers who take a lead in developing sustainable products and business models. I think the market is changing rapidly. Therefore, it’s important for companies to start reviewing the opportunities in buying and using recycled materials, as well as evaluating how to develop their product design and business models to fit a circular system, says Stina Klingvall, Consultant for Circular Consulting in Stena Recycling.
Consumers share their thoughts
In our survey, a large number of respondents took the opportunity to express their expectations for sustainable products in their own words. Many of them were engaged enough to offer advice that supports the sustainability work of manufacturers and retailers, with tips on product development and clear labeling, among other topics.
– Consumer engagement is a great asset for manufacturing companies. They have so much to gain from listening to customers’ ideas and concerns, says Anna Sundell, Head of Sustainability at the Stena Metall Group.
Materials that meet expectations
For many years, Stena Recycling has refined waste in its recycling processes and sold it as recycled raw material. These days, the company also works closely with its customers in strategic, circular partnerships. By optimizing material flows in production and collaborating on design that enables recycling, these partnerships optimize resource management throughout the value chain.
A great deal of work is also being carried out in the conservation of raw materials. Through extensive investment, the recycling of materials, such as iron and other metals, is being significantly improved. In addition, the range of materials we can recycle is growing rapidly, including many types of plastic and battery contents.
- These developments produce raw materials of even higher quality that those from virgin resources. In this way, manufacturers can access circular raw materials that reduce their products' climate footprint. Circular raw materials that meet specific manufacturing requirements are vital in developing the sustainable products that consumers demand, says Mattias Rapaport, Head of Non-Ferrous & Stainless, who oversees Stena Recycling's supply of recycled raw materials to a global market.