The use of recycled plastic and metals in consumer electronic products is a “polarising” issue for consumers, according to a new WRAP study.
The Consumer Attitudes to Sustainable Products study used focus group sessions to identify customer attitudes towards a variety of electronic ‘eco products’ including washing machines, mobile phones and vacuum cleaners. The products all displayed sustainability features including recycled plastic and metal content, lower levels of packaging or renewable energy sources.
According to the study’s findings: “Products made with recycled plastic generated polarised views. Some participants felt comfortable with this and others were concerned that the material might not be durable enough, particularly where a product undergoes heavy usage.”
The study also found that recycled metal was considered “more ‘worthwhile’ than plastic” by consumers.
WRAP sustainable products programme manager Gerrard Fisher told MRW that educating the public about the benefits of using recycled products was key to changing attitudes.
Fisher said: “Why would they be interested in recycled content? What is the benefit of buying a product that has recycled content? If that is explained to them clearly they might be swayed by the argument – it has a lower environmental impact. We’ve shown with our own closed loop demonstrations, it has a much lower carbon footprint and a much lower cost than virgin plastic, so if that information is conveyed they might be more inclined to use it.”