Almost half of consumers say plastic waste is a concern © Huguette Roe/123RF
Almost half of consumers say plastic waste is a concern © Huguette Roe/123RF

Circular economy a key trend for 2019

5 December 2018

Sustainability is growing far beyond individual products and is spreading to “encompass the entire product lifecycle” in what will be a key trend in the coming year, according to Mintel.

In a report, Global Food and Drink Trends 2019, Mintel highlights the momentum for more sustainable approaches to business, fuelled by increasing awareness and demand from consumers.

“A circular view of sustainability that spans the entire product lifecycle requires action from suppliers to consumers,” the report said.

The research is based on input from almost 100 analysts and experts in the food and drink sector and is underpinned by polls of consumer attitudes.

It reveals that the trend for a “more circular approach will require companies, retailers, and consumers to embrace their roles in the sustainable sourcing, production, distribution, consumption and disposal of products”.

The report describes how a 360-degree approach “reflects the principles of a circular economy, where resources are kept in use for as long as possible, extracting the maximum value while in use and then recovering materials at the end of use”.

It said: “Global attention on plastic waste, including bans on plastic bags and straws, is creating momentum towards a broader understanding of sustainability.”

Almost half (47 per cent) of British consumers cite plastic pollution as an environmental issue that is important to them, according to the report.

“In 2019, support of and demand for more corporate sustainability programmes is likely to grow as consumers come to understand the various roles required to get closer to achieving a truly circular food and drink economy,” it said.

“These sustainability efforts will include not only improving access to recycling, but incentivising consumers to recycle packaging and offering upcycled goods.”

The momentum towards ever greater scrutiny of the supply chain is also reflected in new research released today that shows how 2018 has been the year of the ‘ethical consumer’.

Eight in 10 people think that businesses have a responsibility to commit to socially responsible practices such as selling and sourcing ethical products, according to a survey of more than 2,000 people in the UK.

The poll, commissioned by a charity that promotes digital donations, also revealed that more than one in three (37 per cent) consumers claim they have stopped buying from businesses who do not share their values.

Recent months have seen a number of organisations make major announcements about their supply chains.

Heathrow has embedded sustainability in all its contracts, whilst tyre manufacturer Yokohama has launched a sustainable rubber procurement policy and budget, Aldi and Lidl have committed to responsible sourcing of soy.

But there is a long way to go for many companies. Last month SM revealed that eight in 10 organisations are struggling to include sustainability in their supply chain management, according to research by procurement consultancy State of Flux.

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