Research & Reports

Nine out of 10 Australians concerned about environmental sustainability

A new study from HP Australia and Planet Ark found that while over 90 per cent of Australian consumers and businesses are concerned about environmental sustainability, only half believe they are doing their fair share to protect the planet.

The HP Australia Environmental Sustainability Study 2018 was commissioned to uncover the perceptions, values and behaviours of Australian consumers and businesses towards environmental sustainability.

PHD Research, who conducted the study, surveyed over 1,000 Australian Gen X (aged 38-53) and Gen Y (aged 22-37) consumers and more than 600 Australian businesses, ranging from SoHo (small office/home office with 1-4 employees) to medium-sized (51-500 employees).

“Australia is one of the most biologically diverse countries in the world, with our pristine beaches and native wildlife having long been a source of national pride,” said Paul Gracey, interim managing director of HP South Pacific.

“Existing in a society increasingly characterised by single-use products and packaging, Australians are starting to recognise the impact their day-to-day behaviours have on the health of the environment.

“HP Australia has been a long-standing supporter of Planet Ark and through this research collaboration we aim to help Australian consumers uncover new ways to help the planet, while putting a spotlight on the need for businesses and brands to take meaningful action towards becoming more environmentally sustainable – both for the health of the planet and to future-proof their business.”

Consistent across all respondent segments in the study was the view that businesses and brands should be most responsible for their impact on the environment, above individuals, retailers and governments. And with 71 per cent of consumer and 77 per cent of business respondents stating a willingness to pay a premium for environmentally sustainable products, they are willing to back this up with their wallets.

In the workplace, 70 per cent of Australians aged 22-30 stated a strong preference or desire to work for a company that promotes environmentally sustainable practices, compared to under half (48 per cent) of Australians aged 46-53.

As the battle for talent grows, and Gen Y increasingly dominate the workforce, which suggests the need for a major shift in the environmental policies and practices of Australian businesses and brands.

According to Planet Ark, these consumer attitudes represent an opportunity for Australian companies to not only deliver the environmental outcomes that matter most to Australian consumers, but also to secure a greater share of customer wallets.

“It is no longer enough for companies to have environmentally sustainable practices – they need to encourage these behaviours in others,” said Ryan Collins, recycling programs manager at Planet Ark.

“Our environment is the most important resource we have and to keep it healthy we must promote better sustainability practises.

“Today’s consumers have good intentions but look to brands to help them to make positive changes towards protecting the environment in their day-to-day. At Planet Ark, our focus is on enabling companies to be part of the solution and we’re proud to be working alongside HP to better educate Australian consumers and businesses.”

Among those surveyed in the study, Gen Y were found to express more concern about the environment than their Gen X counterparts. Despite this, Gen Xs were found to be more proactive in minimising their impact on the environment by regularly adopting sustainable practices including choosing reusable bags over plastic bags, separating items into the correct bins, avoiding wasting water, and even recycling e-waste.

According to HP’s joint study with Planet Ark, Australians – both consumers and businesses – see marine plastic pollution, landfill waste, and impact on the natural environment as the three leading environmental sustainability concerns. However, the study also uncovered a worrying lack of awareness around how consumers can best recycle e-waste.

The study found 50 per cent of Australian consumers and 44 per cent of businesses do not recycle ink and toner cartridges. For the well-intending majority, access and education remain the greatest barriers to boosting their environmental sustainability efforts in this area.

To get started, Gracey encourages consumers and businesses to talk to their local council about e-waste and other recycling initiatives, such as Cartridges 4 Planet Ark (C4PA).

“Also, look at your home or office and think about how green the products you use truly are,” Gracey added.

“Take your printer, for example. It’s not just about whether you can recycle the paper your printer uses, but the ink and toner cartridges as well, even the components of the printer itself. The flow on effects can be significant.”

HP’s closed loop recycling process uses plastic from recycled Original HP cartridges, plus recycled bottles and hangers, to create new Original HP cartridges. Since 2000, more than 90 million kilograms of recycled plastic have been used, diverting almost 5,000 tractor-trailer loads of plastic from reaching oceans or landfills.

For HP, environmental sustainability is a core and guiding principle. HP is committed to reinventing how its products are designed, manufactured, used, and recovered as it shifts its business model and operations towards a circular and low-carbon economy.

In Australia, HP is a founding member of the C4PA program, which offers individuals, households and small businesses a place to drop off their used printer cartridges at any C4PA collection point for recycling. The materials from these returned cartridges are being turned into various products, such as pens, rulers, picnic tables, even asphalt.

In 2017, HP was the first company in Australia to recycle 10 million HP printer cartridges through C4PA. At the time, this accounted for 55 per cent of the total printer cartridges returned and recycled in Australia since 2003.

In 2015, HP also made a number of global commitments it is working to achieve by 2025, such as:

  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from global operations by 25 per cent. In 2017, HP’s global operations produced 35 per cent less carbon dioxide emissions, reaching this goal eight years early.
  • Shifting to 100 per cent renewable electricity globally to help reduce operational costs, while reducing HP’s carbon footprint, with an interim goal of 40 per cent by 2020. In 2017, HP hit 50 per cent, surpassing this goal three years early.