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Recession shopping habits may change household bin waste, says industry expert

The UK could see a significant change in its household bin composition as shoppers become more careful about spending money after the recession, according to an industry expert.

A new survey by grocery analysts IGD stated that regardless of economic recovery, more than half (54 per cent) of shoppers say they will be more careful about spending money in the future than they are currently.

When asked how they anticipated grocery shopping in 2012, looking beyond the recession, many shoppers said they would make a number of changes including:

  • 29 per cent shopping at discounters more
  • 26 per cent shopping more at farmers markets
  • 23 per cent shopping more online
  • 16 per cent shopping more at neighbourhood stores.

Waste management consultancy AEA practice manager Adam Read told MRW  if the recession continues and the trends identified in the IGD survey remain strong the UK could see a change in its waste streams.

He said: We have seen an upturn in people shopping in farmers markets and I am one of them. People are looking for quality, local produce and buying just the right amount of what they need. This is not about price, it is about community, quality and environmental concern.

This is about what you need and when you want it. If more people buy from these farms and markets then you may see other parts of their consumer behaviour change too. Less trips to the supermarket, less ready made meals, less packaged products. A more thrifty, locally aware and environmentally conscious consumer wave may be on its way.

Read added that the UK may see less food waste in its bins if the consumer continues with this behaviour: People will value their purchases more, will not want to waste their hard earned cash on buy one get one free offers that inevitably end up with wastage we may see waste arisings drop and remain down on last years levels if this type of consumer appreciation remains constant over the next year or so.

He also said that people shopping online may change the waste stream more rapidly and more significantly then the use of farmers markets. For example, he said if more consumers order from Amazon instead of buying from the high street then they could see more packaging in their waste stream to recycle more cardboard but also more polystyrene and bubble-wrap that will end up in the residual bin.

IGD chief executive Joanne Denney-Finch said that shoppers were not necessarily trading down because of the recession. She said: Almost half expect to enjoy a better quality of food by 2012, with only seven per cent expecting it to be worse. So shoppers intend to keep changing their habits, seeking more from less, and they expect the food and grocery industry to keep delivering better value.

Read added: People are making the link between climate change, greenhouse gases and recycling. They are now looking to reduce waste they produce and change their lifestyle to help minimise their impact. This is good news!

He said it will be difficult to predict whether more people will shop online or continue to go to farmers markets or do both and this will have a conflicting impact on our refuse bins. He explained that it will be interesting to see what the impact will be on peoples bins 12 months from now, depending on how long the recession will last and if it will last long enough for the changes being seen in peoples attitudes becoming permanent changes in their habits.

It will be difficult to predict how our bins will look in two years time one thing is for sure is there will be a shift in material composition and tonnage!

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